Bloor West Villager
The sixth annual Parkdale Anti-Violence Education working group (PAVE) International Women’s Day luncheon serves to celebrate women’s accomplishments while showcasing female talent within the Parkdale-High Park area.
PAVE is comprised of a group of area organizations, including the Four Villages Community Health Centre, the women’s agency Sistering, St. Christopher House and women’s safe haven, the Redwood Shelter, among a host of others, who band together throughout the year organizing events and activities for women.
The events, such as the annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on Dec. 6, focus on raising awareness for the issue of violence, Stephanie Gordon, the Redwood Shelter’s community outreach counsellor and a steering committee member of PAVE, told The Villager. The International Women’s Day luncheon, on Tuesday, March 12, will showcase several female performers from the neighbourhood.
“We’re encouraging female youth to participate since the event falls on March Break,” said Gordon.
The lunch, said another PAVE committee member, Peggy-Gail DeHal-Gunraj, provides a meeting place for women in the community.
“It’s a way for the staff of organizations to reach out to women and to create a comfortable space for women in the community to also connect with each other,” she said.
A highlight of the yearly reception is the Rosie McGroarty Scholarship bestowed upon a woman who holds similar values that McGroarty did.
“She cared a lot about the community,” recalled Gordon.
McGroarty was a familiar face at the Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC) where she prepared breakfast every morning for those seeking refuge from the street. Despite facing violence in her own life, she worked hard to improve not only hers, but the lives of fellow community members.
McGroarty was murdered in November of 2005 at the hands of her spouse. She had gone missing a month earlier, reportedly to visit her mother, who was ill. The scholarship was established to commemorate McGroarty while carrying on her work helping those in need of financial support.
“The woman who wins this award will be going back to school in the academic year commencing in the year in which the scholarship is granted,” said Gordon.
The International Women’s Day event takes place Tuesday, March 12 at Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre, 220 Cowan Ave., from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Any youth interested in performing can call Stephanie Gordon at 416-533-4540 ext. 223.