Valerie St John and Heather Forbes hold up paintings by Sheryl Fisher that will be auctioned at the Bridges for Women Society 10th Annual International Women’s Day luncheon. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)

Victoria non-profit celebrates women at annual International Women’s Day luncheon

Bridges for Women Society helps women become economically stable

International Women’s Day is around the corner and to celebrate, Bridges for Women Society will be holding its annual luncheon in celebration of women and self-identified women.

This is the 10th annual luncheon for the non-profit organization that aims to inspire women impacted by trauma to reclaim their lives and become economically stable. About 600 to 700 women graduate through the six-month program with Bridges for Women Society which involves one-on-one counselling as well as a course where they learn employment skills.

“These women come in and work with us for the six months and they really become attached to each other but also to learning and strengthening their own capacity and internal recognition systems for who they really are,” said interim executive director for Bridges, Valerie St John. “It’s life-changing for them.”

READ ALSO: Bridges for Women grad takes on new business idea

The organization’s goal is to help women who work through its program to enter the workforce as financially independent, self-sufficient members of the labour market while being free from the impacts of trauma and abuse that once held them back.

On March 6, ahead of International Women’s Day, Bridges for Women Society will host over 200 community members for an afternoon of lunch, networking and inspiring speeches. The theme for the event is creativity and the arts in relation to healing.

Keynote speakers include celebrated singer-songwriter and actor from Vancouver, Frazey Ford, Victoria’s inaugural Indigenous artist in residence Lindsay Delaronde, University of Victoria professor Darlene Clover, Bridges graduate and storyteller Tiffany Joseph and former Bridges counsellor and member of the Victoria Storytellers Guild Diane Gilliland.

“This is hands down one of the most moving and powerful parts of this event every year because it speaks to the power of our programs and how much progress women make as they work through the program,” said Bridges development manager Heather Forbes. “It’s all connected to their own power.”

READ ALSO: Bridges for Women luncheon in Victoria leaves guests inspired

Forbes said the emphasis on the event being a celebration is important as well because it features a community of people who have been supporting Bridges, have graduated from it or are new to it.

“It’s inspiring to come together to recognize the unique strength that women and self-identified women have,” Forbes said. “There’s not a lot of space in the world to celebrate that.”

Attendees of the luncheon are of all genders and backgrounds and all proceeds from the event directly support women impacted by violence and trauma by sustaining the programs offered by Bridges for Women Society.

To purchase a ticket, visit eventbrite.ca/e/10th-annual-international-womens-day-luncheon-tickets-92081764035. To purchase a table for 10, call the Bridges for Women Society front desk at 250-385-7410.

Those who can’t attend but want to help can purchase a ticket for a Bridges student as well.

The Bridges for Women Society 10th Annual International Women’s Day Luncheon is on March 6 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $85.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


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