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The Building Economic Self-Sufficiency program (BESS) is designed to help women acquire the skills they need to live and thrive independently. It's also designed to build a sense of community. Over the 2016 holiday season, we hosted a number of events for our BESS clients to enjoy the spirit of the season.
The big event of the holiday season was our annual holiday party for all clients of Interval House. Our Community Programs department worked very hard to plan for the party and the huge turnout (34 women and 50 children!) and positive feedback told us that the party was a success.
We had 18 cheerful volunteers helping with activity stations for the children, including face painting, colouring, crafts, and cookie decorating. A chef came in to serve lasagna, curry, and build-your-own tacos, which many of our clients said they particularly enjoyed. We even had a s’mores station for dessert, which had a constant line-up and was a huge hit with the children. A toy room was stocked full of toys for all ages and interests so that each mom could pick out toys to take home for her little ones.
Many of our clients expressed gratitude for the toy room and one mentioned that it relieved much of the pressure around gift-giving during the holiday season.
We also wanted to make sure that moms and single women were not forgotten, so each woman was also gifted a box of essentials, treats, and gift cards to take home for herself. The atmosphere at the party was very lively—holiday music playing in the background, children laughing and playing, and the constant hum of friendly conversation put the guests, staff, and volunteers in a festive mood.
We also held a holiday brunch, where staff prepared and served a delicious meal to our BESS clients. This gathering was an opportunity for clients to socialize and network with one another over a delicious spread of homemade crepes, fruit, waffles, eggs, and coffee. The relaxed conversation and camaraderie was a great way to round off the week before the holidays.
Every holiday season, Interval House is proud to partner with companies in our community to provide sponsorship for our families. This year, we ensured that 30 families did not miss out on the excitement of the holiday season, and that each mom got to see her kids gleefully open gifts from their wish lists.
We were thrilled to host a series of festive events this year and we're always excited to find ways to facilitate community building through BESS. As we move into warmer weather, we look forward to marking the start of spring with our clients!