HALOS Fort McMurray brings residents together to give back
By DAWN BOOTH, Connect Weekly
The Canadian Mental Health Association of Wood Buffalo (CMHA) received a grant of $10,000 from Fort McMurray’s Helping Assist Local Organizations Society (HALOS) at Atmosfere restaurant on March 9.
“I am overwhelmed and grateful that the 100 women of HALOS voted for CMHA,” said Executive Director, Jane Barter in a news release. “This is a difficult time in our economy and all the non-profits who were there last night were all deserving.”
The $10,000 amount was raised by HALOS unique 100 Hearts of Halos initiative, which gathers $100 from 100 community-minded women who come together to give back to the social profits in the region. The society makes a donation of the allotted amount four times a year at their quarterly meetings.
Established in 2014, HALOS was launched by a small group of local women and hosted their premier event: Ebony and Ivory Duelling Pianos Las Vegas Style, which brought in over $125,000 for Fort McMurray’s Kids Forever charity.
Last year, HALOS decided to change the society’s format to engage all women in the community by creating the 100 Hearts of HALOS. The initiative has since granted $10,000 to Stepping Stones Youth Program, Waypoints and the Centre of Hope.
The social profits and/or local charities are chosen based on an application process, which are submitted to HALOS. An event is hosted for each quarterly meeting and gives each of the applicants a platform to speak on their cause.
“At each event, we try to bring a different theme forward for the local ladies to enjoy,” HALOS committee member Debbie Hahn said. “HALOS doesn’t concentrate on one specific group and it’s an easy way for people to be involved in the community without giving up a lot of their time or money, but it’s a huge impact when we get everyone together.”
CMHA explained the donation will go towards the Mental Wellness Program by “continuing to provide honorariums to volunteer facilitators and being able to provide all programs with a larger percentage of a sliding scale available to participants.”
Due to the economy, CMHA further stated there has been an increase in services in recent months. They remind the public that there’s no waiting list and will continue to meet the needs of the community.
“We are meeting the mental health needs of the community,” Barter expressed. “It’s refreshing to start to see the stigma related to mental illness be broken, but there is still lots of work ahead.”
The HALOS funding will further assist in travel costs to bring two CMHA staff members to Fort Chipewyan to educate a trainer for the Mental Wellness Programs, Women’s Self-Esteem and Stress Management in their community.
Please visit www.woodbuffalo.cmha.ca for more information on CMHA’s programs, trainings opportunities and events. For those interested in joining HALOS, please submit an application to firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.halosfm.com to view the application and learn more about the society.