We’re Baaaackkkkk!

Major Sponsor and Honarary Chair, Michael Lamont and Stepen Newell, Board Member

Major Sponsor and Honarary Chair, Michael Lamont and Stepen Newell, Board Member

We’re back!

The Walkathon committee has been working since September putting together this year’s walkathon!

We’ve got an afternoon of fun and laughter, prizes and prizes and more prizes…. and Zumba too!

The 2013 Walkathon will be held at Mohawk Sports Park again this year.  We had such a good time last year, despite the rain, that we booked the venue for 2013.

The flatbed will be back and Helen will be in charge of tunes.  Michael Lamont is proud to, once again, be the major sponsor and Honourary Chair of the Step to Freedom Walk. Steve will be swinging his hips, moving to the music and grooving to the Zumba vibe.  The clowns are coming again, bringing their bubbles and generally adding merriment.

We’re bringing back Laura Stokoe for a Zumba break.  Zumba is an activity that has caught on in gyms, community centres and church basements everywhere.  The pictures from last year tell the truth – we were laughing and having fun – even in the rain.  Yes – we were actually signing, and dancing, in the rain.

And prizes!  Let’s not forget the prizes.  We’ve got a whole load of door prizes to give away.  We’ll keep you updated with a taste of what’s in the box.

Look forward to updates as we get closer to the date.

One month away … and counting….

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The Sun Came Through!

We were right!  The sun came through!

The Mohawk Sports Park parking lot was awash with water when we arrived for the Walkathon.  We navigated the car through pools of muddy water, people milling next to their cars, eying the sky anxiously looking for sings of blue.  But the rain didn’t damper our spirits; excitement was in the air and people where laughing, reconnecting with friends as we all commented on the weather.  But Carol was in charge and would have none of the rain; she took control and demanded a rain free zone for 2:00.

Steve Newell, Announcer and Laura Stokoe, Zumba Queen

And it happened!  No kidding.  It had been raining all morning and the sky looked like it was going to continue all day.  But just as Laura Stokoe prepared the group for the Zumba demonstration, the rain began to let up, and by the time the group was grooving their hippy-shake the rain had stopped and a small patch of blue appeared in the sky.  Steve Newell, Phoenix Place Board member and MC, Announcer followed the instructions of Laura Stokoe as she led walkers in a pre-walk Zumba warmup.

The walkers were loving it.  They moved and grooved, shaking their booties and swinging their arms, they certainly got their muscles going before hitting the sports park track.  Even those who preferred to watch couldn’t help but tap their toes to the tunes.  Laura was an energetic and enthusiastic leader.  She got everyone sparked for action, warmed up and ready to go.

Fran Hoppa, Chair of the Board of Directors of Phoenix Place welcomed the workers and said a few words of thanks for everyone coming out on such a wet day in support of the work that we do at Phoenix Place.  It’s important work helping women and their children rebuild their lives after living with domestic violence.  If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be doing it, nor would we find the support we have in the community.

Michael Lamont, our Major Walkathon Sponsor came up and said a few words of welcome and thanks to everyone for their enthusiasm and commitment to our cause, creating a safe and secure space for women and their children.  He then led the group through the gate and toward the track to begin the walkers on their way.

Clowns, music, bubbles, dancing, people laughing, chatting with each other, kids dancing, babies bouncing, people were having a blast.

It wasn’t to last long before the rain clouds gathered again to threaten to drop their load on the walkers.  Carol called “time” at 2:40 pm and the walkers, somewhat reluctantly, left the track.

But wait!  There were prizes to give out before the risk of electrocution became a very real possibility.  Steve did an awesome announcing the winning numbers.  Tickets were picked and called out in what could be the fastest raffle draw ever, but that didn’t matter, people were happy with their winnings, happy with their contributions to the day, happy to be together for a good cause and somewhat sad that it was all over far too soon.

We’ve got pictures to process – hundreds of pictures.  And video – yep – video.

Stay tuned for a top up of the day.

Singing in the Rain…

It the BIG day!

The one we’ve been working toward for the last few months.

And it’s raining!

But that’s ok, because nothing can stop us.  We thought about rain and put our collective skills together and came up with solutions to water from the sky in the form of tarps and plastic wrap.  And umbrellas and rain coats and rubber boots.  It’s not like we all haven’t had a little rain fall in our lives.

And we need the rain.  We need the nourishment it gives plants: flowers, vegetables, trees, grass.  Crops rise and fall on the amount of rain than comes from the clouds, from droughts to wash-outs and all in between, rain has a major effect on our lives.

After the rain, the world seems a bit brighter, the sidewalks and roads are cleaner, less dusty.  Light reflects from drops hanging, ready to drip, the world is covered in diamonds it seems.  The clouds clear, the sun shines, you can almost feel the plants become more green, more fuller, more life-filled.  The oppressive air that precedes a cloudburst is gone, like a bubble burst, it dissipates through the atmosphere.

No matter what, we’ll be Singing in the Rain.  We have the fabulous Jelle coming to perform their song Steps to Freedom.  And we’ve got music, music, music to rock our walk.

I’m good with rain.  It’s nothing like what the women have to deal with who walk through the doors of Phoenix Place. I’ll put my rubber shoes on and bring my pink umbrella.  The sun is struggling to poke through the clouds I bet by the time 2:00 rolls around and we’re ready to begin, I won’t need my umbrella…

See you there….!

Warming up for the big WALK!

Tomorrow’s the BIG DAY!

Everyone’s excited about the afternoon.  There’s going to be clowns and music, fun and friends, all coming together to support a good cause – Phoenix Place.

To get us ready for moving around the track, we’ve got a special guest coming to help out.

Laura Stokoe, CNP, RNCP, ROHP, a nutrition consultant and Zumba fitness instructor will be on hand to take us through a Zumba warmup before we all start walking. You can find more about Laura on her webiste, Go to Health.

Zumba is the fastest-growing dance fitness program in North America that gets people moving, grooving and dancing to a Latin beat.  It’s a hip-shaking, booty-swinging celebration that doesn’t seem like exercise at all.

Laura holds classes at the Regent Health Centre, 150 Locke Street S. in Hamilton, Ontario. She is a certified and registered holistic nutritionist with a passion to help people achieve their optimum health.  Laura is also a certified Zumba instructor, with an enthusiasm for getting groups up and moving and shaking their booties all the way to a health lifestyle.

The testimonials from participants are glowing. S.T., writing on the Go to Health, website says:

I love Zumba so much!! I have tried at least 3 different Zumba classes at different locations and I think Laura is the best instructor by far.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to try a Zumba class, here’s your chance. If you’re already a hip-shaking devotee come out and show us your stuff!  We know that Zumba lovers love a party.  What better way to spark up our walk and get our bodies moving than a quickie Zumba warm up?

So don’t forget to bring your best hippy-hippy shake to the party!

See you tomorrow!

Music, Music, Music

We’re getting ready for the BIG DAY!

Helen has been busy.  She took on the job of coordinating the music and has done a fabulous job of pulling together a repertoire of classic tunes that will keep us rocking the walk.

During one of the early planning meetings we took a minute – or two and ten – to brainstorm for a soundtrack for the day.  We have the fabulous and talented Jelle who are coming to play their original song.  They’ll be bringing by copies of their CD and will be donating proceeds to Phoenix Place and the 2012 Walkathon.  This is a fab opportunity for you to support local artists along in their careers while helping women rebuild their lives.  That’s win-win for us and for our community.

We were sparked, thinking of our theme, A Step Toward Freedom and ideas bounced off one another as we relived the past 30 years or so of pop culture.

We thought about what we wanted….

We want people to Rise Up and and join us in helping women step toward freedom.  No matter what the weather, we’ll be Walking on Sunshine as we celebrate women who are walking toward freedom and away from the Black Eyes and Blue Tears of their past.  We’re gonna Walk the Line with pride and hope for a better future, Like an Egyptian.  We could walk for 500 Miles gathering women and spreading awareness of hope for a violence-free future.  Even if you’re a Man, [You’re] Gonna Feel Like a Woman and, celebrating freedom, together, [We] Will Survive!

Share your playlist suggestions below….  🙂

Steps to Freedom – Jelle 2012


Their name is Jelle and we are so very proud to be included in their most recent CD.  Last week, Phoenix Place received 50 of the CD that includes their song Steps to Freedom, written in honour of our walk.  They can be obtained for a $5.00 donation to Phoenix Place and the band has indicated that all the money will go towards the walk proceeds.  I have purchased one of the CD’s and not only do I love our song, I have become a huge fan of their music.  The other songs included on the CD Burning Letters and Fight for Love are fabulous!  I have included the words to Steps to Freedom so that you can all share and sing along when the band performs the song on walk day, June 9th at Mohawk Sportspark.  If you are not participating in the walk, please join us anyway to cheer on the walkers, hear the music and perhaps donate for a CD.  We look forward to seeing you all.

Steps to Freedom:

I will not cry anymore

Now I know what I live for

My dreams and thoughts and beliefs

Can now live peacefully

I built a bridge today

To a place I’d like to stay

I know that I’ll never leave

This is now home to me                                  Chorus: Friendly smile let’s stay a while

You lend a hand to me

Chorus                                                                           I will fight let’s make things right

Take steps to freedom with me

One day I’ll feel no pain

Now that things have changed

I’m on the path I belong

I know that I am strong



Bridge:  Na na na na na na

Na na na na na

Na na na na na na

Oh oh oh



Thank You

Your support is greatly appreciated!

There are so many people to thank, Michael Lamont who has agreed to be the lead sponsor for A Step Towards Freedom.  A thank you to Vixenz Hair Studio and Councillors Scott Duvall, Jason Farr, Sam Merulla and Terry Whitehead, MPP’s Chris Charlton, Andrea Horwath and Monique Taylor, and MP’s David Christopherson and David Sweet for their business card ads that were able to produce the brochure for A Step Towards Freedom.

A sincere appreciation goes out to:

Mark’s Salon                           Cottage 13                                          Bell Arte Camera

Rona (Parkdale Location)       Montford Mediterranean Cuisine      Chris-tal Designs

BFRClub                                   Costco                                                 Metro

Fortino’s (Main St West)         Hank Balfoort, Chase Realty

For their support to the draw prize table and goodie bags!

On the day of the walk you will see a large transport truck sitting in the middle of the track, we would like to thank Travelers for their sponsorship to make this happen, which will serve as the podium for the event.  Jelle will also perform their hit song “Steps To Freedom”, for which they are donating proceeds of the CD sales.

A Step Towards Freedom took several months of planning and we would like to thank the volunteer team who has made the event the success it is:

Debbie Anderson                    Megan Anderson                    Fran Hoppa

Stephen Newell                       Margaret Shkimba                  Arielle Stockdale

Helen Thorpe

A great BIG thank you to all of our walkers who giving their time to walk and raise money for the women and children of Phoenix Place, and the wonderful people who are opening their wallets to their family and friends who are walking!

THANK YOU, you are all amazing!

Our 2012 Program Celebration!

What a great afternoon. This past week we celebrated the final session of this spring’s “Rise Like the Phoenix” program by having lunch at the Mandarin for all those who attended the sessions. Our program takes place over twelve weeks and we spend much of our time learning about who we really are and using new tools to set and reach goals. During our group sessions, we discuss values and how they shape who we are. There were many lively discussions around such things as the law of attraction, self-image, courage and each of us wrote our own personal mission statement. There were even several sessions at which we just had some fun. These sessions included a Zumba class, a visit from a reiki and wellness practitioner, cooking and baking, and one afternoon we all dressed up as clowns! All the sessions provided new information, new friendships and the opportunity for growth.

At our celebration lunch, we talked about what the program means for the residents, former residents and outreach clients of Phoenix Place. The group’s comments included:

“I am using what I learned in the program every day”

“It is good to know that others go through the same things I do”

“I appreciate the social aspects as well. This group of women have become my friends and it is good to share our feelings, fears and experiences”

“We are powerful and we re taking charge of our own lives”

The poem Destiny that you see above was inside the package that each woman received. The package held a butterfly or a heart and each was hanging on a slender pink thread. As it says, when it wears away, your dream will become your destiny. This may be the most important aspect of the program indeed – that the women in this group are taking charge of their lives and are feeling empowered to make their own decisions and follow their own dreams and goals.

Flying Toward Freedom!

Have you ever seen a peacock fly?

Doesn’t it look like a phoenix?  No wonder the Ancients were so inspired.

Peafowl, as peacocks and peahens are called, were early inspirations for the mythology surrounding the phoenix the symbolic inspiration for Phoenix Place.

The phoenix, a mythological creature with a life cycle of 500 years, is consumed at the end of its life by a fire which burns fiercely and completely until nothing remains but ash, out of which it is reborn and the cycle begins again.

It’s a symbol of regeneration, of rebirth and renewal, of the immortality of the soul.  How appropriate for the work we do at Phoenix Place:  provide women with a place to gather their wits together, sift through the ashes of their old life and help them fan the embers of a new future.

Peafowl symbolize benevolence, patience, kindness, compassion.  Never mind some people use them as security agents; their loud scream is sure enough to both wake the dead and announce intruders.

Here at Phoenix Place women find the resources they need to regenerate after burning the bridges of their old lives, they find the compassion and nurturing they need to support them in the difficult decisions they make daily; the struggle to find themselves, set goals, achieve small, and not-so-small victories, and face the world with new hope for a better future.  They find safety, security, and the peace of mind they need to begin rebuilding their lives.

It’s difficult to imagine, perhaps, how different it is for women who are abused to find the strength they need to step up and step out of an abusive relationship.  Often the men they are leaving don’t want them to go and will promise to move the earth and sky to get them back into the home – so they can continue the abuse, so they can exert their control, so that their lives don’t have to change.  It’s not love they feel for a companion, a partner, but the need for power and control that drives their behaviour.

Women who come to Phoenix Place are supported through a 24-week workshop designed to assist them in pulling together the resources they need, both within themselves and throughout the community, that can help them on their journey to a new life.  Finding an apartment is the most important task, an apartment she can afford, that she feels safe in, that she can call home.  Life in crisis is chaotic and emotionally messy, a safe and secure harbour in the storm goes a long way toward healing the soul.

There’s transition happening at Phoenix Place every day, small little transformations and huge complete makeovers.  When women leave and move into their new apartments they take with them the furniture, pots, pans and linens they need to set up their new homes. Like the phoenix, they gather their nests and fly off to the city of the sun…

Our Friends Rock!

Phoenix Place has friends who rock and roll!

When Megan Anderson heard about Phoenix Place and the work we do, she was so inspired by the women who live here she told some friends about the walkathon hoping they’d maybe join her team, support her with a donation.  When they offered to write a song to celebrate the day, she was blown away.

And so were we when she sent it to us the other day.

We’re sharing it with you now.

We’ve invited them to come to the Walkathon at Mohawk Sports Park on Saturday, June 9 to play their song for us.

Live music! Clowns!