Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Remarkable Evening to Support SHYM

A world where a young single mother can live on her own in a secure and affordable home that is free from violence.  A home where she feels welcome, has access to support, knows her neighbours, and that her child is safe."
                                                           - SHYM website

 I first learned about SHYM, Supportive Housing for Young Mothers, when our school parents' associtation was organizing our annual holiday give back program.  We wanted to support an organization that wasn't on everyone's radar and could really use the extra help.  The Armbrae community is extremely generous and we were able to donate many needed items and gifts to SHYM for the holidays.

When I started this project I knew that I wanted to contact SHYM and look at ways to further get involved.  In one of the many inspiring conversations with my Dad about Forty 4 Change, I realized that there was such an amazing potential to give back, to an organization that gives such a solid foundation to young mothers.  My Dad has this innate ability to think big and see the infinite potential, his ideas and enthusiasm were contagious!  {more about how he inspires me in a later post} When I mentioned some of my ideas to my friend and amazing photographer, Jen Partridge, she was equally excited.  In fact, she was very quick to offer her talents to give the mothers of SHYM a day of photo sessions for them and their children.  This has evolved into a full spa day, photo session, and much more, to give these young women a little bit of life's luxuries {watch for more on that in June}.

A few months ago I had the privilege of meeting Wendy Fraser, the Director of SHYM, one extremely dedicated woman.  She gave me a tour of SHYM, which houses 11 units for mothers and their children.  Sitting and talking with Wendy about SHYM, their challenges, the rewards, and her passion for it all made me want to do more.  I told her about my idea for the spa and photo day, which she was thrilled about, and we talked about their upcoming fundraiser.  It was during that discussion that I saw an opportunity!

I knew that their very special event deserved some special extra touches, so I offered to do a custom dessert table, designed specifically for SHYM.  Wendy was excited and so was I!  Each time I get an opportunity to create some sweet treats on display I get a bit giddy!

Since the event was scheduled for the night before Mother's Day I wanted the table to feel like an outdoor brunch brought inside for the, elegant, and delicious!

I solicited the help of my good friend Veronica for feedback on the design....the minute we get together the ideas come fast and furious, we talk fast and the enthusiasm builds!  {she later helped me pull it all together on event day!} I did a quick art board for the design and got to work sourcing products and treats.  We went with black, white and purple to keep it fun and classy.  I really wanted to use the old fashioned tissue fans as hanging decor and wasn't sure they would fit in with an evening event....but then I saw them in a posting at my favorite creative site The TomKat Studio, and knew it could be done!  

Since the event theme was cabaret, I knew we had to tie in a top hat...or two!  Nadine, of Femme Fondants, agreed to do the fabulous cupcakes AND created a stunning cake as a decoration {everyone wanted to eat it!}.   I asked Tracey, cookie extraordinaire, to create a custom top hat cookie and gave her stunning little silver glitter edible stars, from Sweetdejavu, to place on each cookie.  My favorite graphic designer, Jennifer, offered to create the beautiful cupcake toppers {love them!}.  
I was so grateful for these fabulous ladies and their willing contributions to the event!

I spotted these sweet black and white bags at Shop Sweet Lulu!  Jessie has the most adorable products.  I knew these bags deserved a very decadent I made giant double chocolate chip cookies, dipped half in chocolate!  I also bought the bags in black and white polka dots, which I used to give treats to the performers of the evening {and forgot to take a picture!}  My daughter, Fleur, helped me make every unique flower that adorned the bags.  

These treat/baking cups are so fun and I loved the stripes.  They were an easy treat guests could pick up and walk around with...yummy too! 

Chocolate dipped marshmallows are always a crowd favorite, young and old, so I made these with dark chocolate with crystal sugar.

Jennifer also designed this little table poster and I couldn't resist adding this beautiful headband I had custom made for my daughter by Banner Boutique.  

The silent auction opened an hour before the show was to begin, so Jen Partridge came to capture the details.  I cannot say enough thank yous to Jen...she has embraced this journey I am on and never seems to tell me NO!  I am incredibly grateful for her talent and her support.

I was excited to donate a mini dessert table to the event's silent auction and loved seeing people actually bid on it!

I think many attending the event were afraid to touch the dessert table, wondering if it was for display only....I quickly walked over and started handing treats out.  It was like kids in a candy store, smiles and happiness everywhere.  It felt incredibly rewarding.

The Cabaret portion of the evening was filled with some very moving performances.  I think I cried through the first half of the show listening to Laura Smith, Tanya Davis {poet laureate}, and Shauntay Grant.  One of the Moms, that has lived at SHYM for the past 2 years, spoke about how it changed her life, taught her life skills, and provided her with a supportive place to live.  I was moved by her courage to stand in front of all of us and share some of her story.  

Supportive Housing for Young Mothers thrives from Wendy's leadership.  I am so thankful that she trusted me enough to let me be a part of it.

My husband, Wayne, who sits happily on the sidelines, has embraced so many of the Forty 4 Change projects.  This one was no different....who do you think hung all the tissue fans? :)  Thank you sweetie.

Someone asked me recently, "what has been your most treasured project to date?"  I couldn't possibly choose just one of the acts or events, all of them have moved me in some way.  But I can say that what has surprised me is that during the act of giving to all of these people and organizations, I have received back far more than I ever imagined.  

The spa day for SHYM moms is going to be amazing!  If you have a product or service you would like to donate that would make it extra special please contact me.