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Garage sale and comedy night coming soon to aid Big Hill Haven women's shelter

Giant garage sale afficionados and comedy buffs alike will find it all under one roof on June 2 and 3, as the Leah Group of Royal Lepage Realty will present a community event combining those two elements to support the women’s shelter in Cochrane
Big Hill Haven womens' shelter fundraiser weekend runs June 2 and 3.

Giant garage sale aficionados and comedy buffs alike will find it all under one roof on June 2 and 3, as the Leah Group of Royal Lepage Realty will present a community event combining those two elements to support a women’s shelter in Cochrane.

The comedy night will be on June 2 and the garage sale is taking place the next day.

All of the sale proceeds from both events will go to Big Hill Haven – Cochrane’s emergency shelter that supports families escaping domestic violence. Last year’s sale raised over $5,000.

Debbie Leah, a director at Big Hill Haven, is hopeful Cochranites will come out to support the crucial service provided by the shelter.

“Unfortunately, the demand is high, and the more beds we open up, the more space becomes an issue,” she said.

Leah added that a lot of people in Cochrane don’t realize the size of the geographical area they cover, which extends from Bragg Creek to Water Valley, and from Bearspaw out to Exshaw.

“Pretty much where the RCMP detachment works, that is our area,” she said.

Big Hill Haven also has a great working relationship with surrounding areas that have their own shelters, which means that at times, they will transfer clients back and forth.

She said demand has also increased as a result of transitioning toward a ‘post-COVID’ world.

“We found we didn’t have a high usage during COVID because when clients don’t really know what life looks like outside of their current situation, people just decided to shelter in place,” she said.

“Better to live with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

As soon as pandemic-related restrictions were lifted, Big Hill Haven’s demand shot right back up.

One of their challenges now is to find enough second-stage housing – space they need to offer to clients who may be ready to transition from the shelter into something a little more independent.

Garage sale item donations will be accepted June 1 and 2 at the Cochrane Lions Club Event Centre at 109 5th Ave., from 8 am to 8 pm. The sale runs on the Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm.

There are a few restrictions on the donations accepted this year, according to Big Hill Haven. The shelter will no longer be able to accept books or clothing, and items must be in clean, sellable condition.

Questions about items to donate can be emailed to [email protected].

The Friday night comedy show is an all-female line-up, with what’s being described as “Yuk Yuks quality comedians.” Tickets are $20, the doors open at 7 pm, and the show starts at 7:30. The Cochrane Lions Club is running the bar and there will be food available.

Big Hill Haven has been offering support to women living in unsafe situations since 2016. Part of their mission is to lead the community in understanding the issues related to family violence.

The outreach program honours the complexity of leaving an abusive relationship, while providing education, information, and support aimed at increasing safety.

Risk assessments and safety plans are completed with each client and referrals and resources responsive to a client’s unique needs are provided.

Linking families to formal support networks that assist them is vital in decreasing isolation and risk associated with unhealthy and abusive relationships. Outreach supports increase opportunities for families to pursue lives free from abuse.

For more information on the work of Big Hill Haven, go to

Howard May

About the Author: Howard May

Howard was a journalist with the Calgary Herald and with the Abbotsford Times in BC, where he won a BC/Yukon Community Newspaper Association award for best outdoor writing.
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