Nova Vita Domestic Violence Prevention Services in Brantford hosted their 13th annual International Women’s Day celebration on Wednesday, March 9 in conjunction with their ongoing More Than a Bed fundraising campaign.
This is the second consecutive year that the event has been hosted in an online format, but Jessica Powless, special events and public education coordinator at Nova Vita, said it felt different than last year.
“We could really feel how high the energy levels were this year,” she said. “We knew how to host a successful virtual event so we decided to really build on that. We saw an increase in ticket purchases and event participation and the support from everyone was overwhelming.”
In addition to being the largest fundraiser of the year for the organization, Powless said that Nova Vita Women’s Day is about more than just raising money.
“Events like this one are really important to build awareness around what we do,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to remind people that you don’t necessarily have to use the shelter to use Nova Vita. We offer a lot of outreach and support services, counselling, family court support work, and a multitude of other services that can be accessed.”
Every year, the More than a Bed campaign targets a specific need at Nova Vita, this year the funds raised will be going toward new laundry equipment for the 33-bed shelter.
“We set a goal of $12,000 for our More than a Bed campaign and we are sitting around the $11,000 mark so we’re almost there,” Powless said. “In total, through the campaign and the event we have raised roughly $28,000.”
Powless explained that financial donations are more crucial than ever with operating costs rising significantly through the pandemic.
“We did our calculations and last year alone the pandemic cost us an additional $220,000 in operating costs,” she said. “Demand for our services was higher than it has ever been and keeping up with PPE and signage to keep everyone safe came at a cost. We definitely saw the impact of COVID-19 on our bottom line.”
Powless said that this year’s event was very special because they were able to include the volunteers’ experiences in the presentation.
“Our volunteers really made this event work,” she said. “Most of the time, they are just in the background, offering helping hands, and it was so nice to be able to celebrate these volunteers that have stuck with us throughout the pandemic. Volunteers got the opportunity to share their experiences working with Nova Vita with event participants. Not only was it important for us to highlight the work that they do, it was also important to hear from them about the impact of donor dollars, because they see it firsthand.”
In addition to the volunteers, Powless wanted to take the time to acknowledge the event sponsors and donors.
“This year’s presenting sponsor was Brantford Apparel, the take home meal was made by the Brantford Golf and Country Club, and we had so many generous donations for prizes and our silent auction,” she said. “These sponsors and donors make events like this possible and we cannot thank them enough.”
The More than a Bed campaign runs until the end of March, and the Mother’s Day campaign launches next month. Registration for the 25th annual Golf Fore Nova Vita Tournament in August will be announced soon.