Second Annual Shameless Circle Fundraising Dinner

I cradled my black and red high heels in my hands and reminisced about the events that I had worn them to. I bought them 13 years ago to wear to the Alzheimer Society Gala at the Fort Gary Hotel and they remained my go-to formal footwear choice. After 13 years and countless events, they were finally too beat up and it was time to retire them. I replaced them with black 4-inch faux suede pointy toe Mary Jane pumps for the Second Annual Shameless Circle Fundraising Dinner.

I haven’t worn 4-inch heels since I was in my early twenties and I haven’t worn heels once this year with the exception of functional, well-supported ankle boots with a 1-inch heel. I felt like a baby giraffe learning how to walk. I sent my friend a text telling her that I was “legit nervous” about wearing the shoes and that I would rather go on a hike surrounded by bears. She responded with a gif of a model flailing around in ankle-breaking heels and I burst out laughing.

I imagined myself falling over, hitting a server with a tray of drinks, and spilling them all over the Mayor just before he was about to speak. I knew that I had to get out of my head if I wanted to wear the shoes so I stopped with the negative self-talk and instead, I imagined myself as an ass-kicking superhero, leaping rooftop to rooftop in hot pursuit of a villain. My confidence soared by the end of the night after rocking the cobblestone pathway.

Autumn Chiller! Pineridge Hollow has an amazing non-alcoholic drink menu.

It felt so good to do something “normal” in the year of Covid where events have been postponed and cancelled. The dinner was held outside in a tent at Pineridge Hollow and was smaller due to physical distancing. The air around us was cold (one of the heaters broke) but the energy was high with a fashion show and the speeches were full of heart and passion. As the outdoors-women that I promote myself as, I brushed off the chill in the air by telling stories of cold-weather camping. The people who went to their car to get a blanket surely thought I was nuts.

The topic of speeches revolved around mental health, suicide, shame, exploitation, and non-consensual distribution of intimate images (NCDII). Cathy Cox, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women partnered with Shameless Circle this year and declared April 14, 2020 the Non-Consensual Distribution of Intimate Images Awareness Day. For Co-Founder Sara Usman, NCDII impacted the foundation that Shameless Circle was built upon.

Shameless Circle comes together on Sunday afternoons with free and meaningful activities for women. Much of the programming was moved to Zoom this year because of Covid. The team offered healing circles, a family legal rights webinar, discussions on body health and developing positive relationships with ourselves, as well as online yoga and zumba classes. As things began to open up, in-person kickboxing, yoga, and self-defense classes have taken place as well as conflict resolution sessions.

I have volunteered with Shameless Circle for a couple of years now, leading immersive nature walks in urban forests, showcasing that we do not need to travel far for the benefits of nature. I led a walk before the Covid shutdown in addition to coordinating a Guided Nature Therapy Walk to celebrate International Women’s Day with Backcountry Women and Explore Life Coaching. Proceeds from the event were donated to the Empower Me Fund.

The fundraising dinner supports the Empower Me Fund. This fund is designed to offer women financial support towards something specific that would not otherwise be covered by another organization or agency. The examples we heard about last night included massage therapy gift cards, clothing store gift cards, Costco membership, gas gift cards, and driving lessons.

I was seated next to Sherrie, the Executive Director of S.H.A.D.E. (Safe Housing and Directed Empowerment) Inc, an organization with a goal of providing second stage housing for immigrant and refugee women and their children who have been impacted by domestic abuse/family violence. S.H.A.D.E. became a registered non-profit in 2014 but I only recently learned of them by browsing Instagram. S.H.A.D.E. has an upcoming virtual 10K fundraising walk between September 26th – October 3rd that I am planning to participate in. Fundraising walks are an easy way for me to support organizations and I greatly benefit from the extra movement.

Sara Usman- Co-Founder of Shameless Circle and I

There were many familiar faces at the dinner last night, showcasing the consistent and good work that Shameless Circle is doing. It was a pleasure to meet new people as well and learn about the good work they are doing to help women. I am very much looking forward to staying involved with Shameless Circle and continuing to offer nature-based activities to help women empower themselves.

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