It’s no secret that most women love to decorate but, when you can enjoy what you love while giving back to Oil Country, it’s hard to deny your charitable involvement. Some of the ladies behind the Edmonton Oilers were handed just that task and their handiwork was shown off to the public yesterday.
Jamie Jones, Alex Belanger and Carla Potter may have taken a bit more pride than most in yesterday’s grand opening of the Wings of Providence “Home Next Door”. The trio of Oilers Ladies transformed a bare two-bedroom apartment into a decorated home for a family in need. It’s one of 30 new apartments which make for affordable housing with all the extras – appliances, towels, linens, dishes and pictures.
“We loved the opportunity to pour love on this family we don’t even know,” said Jamie. “We just wanted it to feel like a space they could come home to and know that they were safe in a difficult time. Giving them a place to call home is something we loved being part of.”
She treasured the experience and the power of women helping women. “To be able to give back to other women in Oil Country who are at a difficult point in their lives means so much to the Oilers Ladies. It’s important to show them that we are here to help.”
The people behind the Wings of Providence Society, which provides secure and healthy living environments to women and children who have experienced family violence, watched a family move into the apartment.
“The woman who moved in was overwhelmed with emotion to know the community really does care about what happens to her and her children,” said Linda Churchill of Wings of Providence Society. “People are speaking out about family violence; hats off to the Oilers Ladies for being leaders in the community.”
The Ladies embody the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation’s mission to make Oil Country a better place to live, work and play. Through 82 games in the season, whether the team was playing on home ice or sporting away jerseys, the wives, fiancées and girlfriends of Oilers players worked tirelessly to help the community. Their warmth, spirit and compassion speak to a deeply rooted commitment to Oil Country.
Jamie, who is the wife of Oilers forward Ryan Jones, represents the Oilers Ladies on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Ladies are involved in Oil Country in a variety of ways, notes Jones. “Through participating in spin-a-thons, baking cookies, making crafts and donating Oilers tickets; the Oilers Ladies have helped provide happy moments to families during some of their darkest days.”
“It means everything to me to be able to give back to this community and to the fans of Oil Country,” said Jamie. “I believe my work with the Oilers Ladies is my way of saying thank you. Thank you for welcoming us into your community, thank you for supporting my husband and his teammates day-in and day-out.”
The apartment project was one of many endeavours for the Ladies this year. They staged three major fundraisers at Oilers games: Rally Against Cancer, Shirts Off Our Backs Presented by ATB Financial and the St. Patrick’s Day Puck Surprise. The three events raised $160,000 for Foundation-supported charities, including the Alberta Cancer Foundation/Cross Cancer Institute, the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, Kids Help Phone and The Support Network.
In addition to work at the games, the Oilers Ladies were busy volunteering with Soup Sisters, where they chopped ingredients, stirred soup and served hope for women and children who have been living through hard times. That effort resulted in more than 200 servings of soup to Edmonton Women In Need Shelter (WIN House). They helped launch the Christmas Bureau campaign by decorating gingerbread cookies at Southgate Centre. That campaign reached 98 per cent of its $1.8-million fundraising goal, providing 65,000 Christmas meals for families. Finally, while the Oilers men were on the road in March, the Ladies were out supporting the team’s long-time Dressing Room Attendant, Joey Moss, as he hit the runway for the Uniquely Me Fashion Show, which raised money for the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society
“We are proud to have such a wonderful group of community-focused Oilers players’ wives and girlfriends as ambassadors for our initiatives,” said Natalie Minckler, Executive Director of the Foundation. “The Oilers Ladies commitment to Oil Country is admirable; they continue to work to brighten the lives of families who need it most and have helped make our community a better place to live.”
The Oilers Ladies were instrumental in the high level of support the Foundation received this past season. With their help, the EOCF was able to meet their goals of raising awareness and funds to better the community.
Jamie Jones and the Oilers Ladies look forward to doing even more in Oil Country next season. “I have really embraced the opportunity to give back to people that need help,” said Jones. “I think what makes Oil Country so special is the fans and being able to give back to them is just a huge blessing. I don’t think enough people realize just how special Edmonton and its support of the community is.”
The family that just moved into their newly decorated apartment at Wings of Providence is certainly aware of and appreciative of that support. They are grateful the Oilers Ladies have reminded them that home really is where the heart is in Oil Country.
To learn more about the EOCF’s initiatives and the Oilers Ladies involvement please visit: oilersfoundation.ca.