The evening featured the lively music of the Dnes Sisters, Natalie, Nicole, and Kathryn and friend Adam Gribble, playing and singing Irish fiddle tunes and folk music. Strains of St Anne's Reel, Orange Blossom Special and Ashokan Farewell were played, to the delight of the gathered guests who at times found it difficult to keep to their seats. An array of decadent homemade desserts and coffee rounded out the celebration.
Karen Perrott, Executive Director of Sunrise, welcomed everyone, describing the evening as an opportunity “to look back at the good times, and our response to that is gratitude”, gratitude for the volunteers and gratitude for the clients.
As Sunrise volunteers have shown “personal trusted support, we’ve become like a family, as we live life with our clients, many become lifelong friends”. Sunrise is also thankful for the support of churches, local businesses, community groups and individuals.
Sunrise was started in response to a request from some young women looking for help in parenting and completing high school, after the birth of their babies. Sunrise staff and volunteers assist young mothers and their families during pregnancy and post-delivery, providing a an approach to care for the whole person, on a physical, emotional, mental social and spiritual level, filling in the gaps which other services miss. They connect moms with the Food for Thought program, the public health nurse, or the Rose of Durham counsellor, and continuing education programs. They provide prenatal classes, teach life skills, and give nursery care. As meals are prepared together, “some of the best conversations happen around the kitchen island” said Esther Veens, Coordinator of Program and Client Care.
The audience heard from two young moms, who thanked the Sunrise team for giving them a place to connect, an awareness that they were not alone, and practical support through the ups and downs along the way.
Some Sunrise graduates have gone on to complete nursing and college programs. Some have returned to give back to the Sunrise community, volunteering at fundraising projects, or providing practical advice with regards to home management, and finances. Young people of their next generations are now attending college and university. Each success in the lives of these families adds to the legacy of Sunrise.
Esther summed up the mission of Sunrise, “Sometimes it’s energizing and sometimes it’s daunting, but we love what we do and we know that we’re raising hope with these families.”