PR Festival of Trees a dazzling event

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

The creativity of local companies and non-profits was on full display again this year at the annual Peace River Festival of Trees.

More than 80 people came out for the opening night wine and cheese gala to check out the unique decorations and start bidding in the silent auction, while 200 RSVPed to the main Saturday gala.

The festival is the largest fundraiser for the Peace River Regional Women’s Shelter.

“I was quite surprised to see the turnout tonight so it was really nice,” says Caroline Sorge, the executive director of the shelter.

The women’s shelter is hoping to raise $30,000 for second stage housing, which will include five suites, which will be adjustable from bachelor with a kitchenette, to bachelor plus one bedroom, or bachelor plus two bedroom, depending on the size of the family. The suites will be available from three to 24 months and have staff on hand 24 hours a day seven days a week.

“It’s a longer term. Emergency shelter is only 21 days, [and] it takes significantly longer than that to get income, housing, things like that so it’s quite important that we have that facility,” Sorge says.

“A big part of the idea for second stage is that if they need help budgeting, if they need help learning to cook, taking care of the family, all that is a part of the program so we have milestones.”

The shelter currently has a funding shortfall for the housing project.

“We kind of got a little bit of a stall because the tenders came in much higher than the quotes, so that’s why we’re having to fundraise,” says Sorge.

Sorge says the shelter already has funding commitments from the province, CMHC, Northern Sunrise County, County of Northern Lights, and the Town of Peace River, so construction work will be going ahead.

“We need to start as soon as we can because we’ve already been delayed for a year,” says Sorge.

Sorge says she is blown away once again by the support for the Festival of Trees.

“It’s a very beautiful event and we’re happy for all the support. It’s always so surprising how many people support the shelter, so we’re very, very thankful.”

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