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A Year in the Life of a Core Volunteer

posted by The Princess Shop    |   July 5, 2019 11:30

Written by Sarah Hadley.

In May of 2018, I had just finished my first year of university at the UofS. I had a job at a local company that was offering me casual hours, so I was on the search for a second job over the summer. In my job search, I came across a posting for a volunteer representative position at The Princess Shop. Not even knowing what The Princess Shop was about, I went ahead and applied anyway. I was in need of volunteer experience for my resume. However, The Princess Shop quickly became so much more than just something to put on my resume.

When I walked into The Princess Shop for the first time, I was surprised to see so many dresses. I would later find out that the quantity of dresses is in the thousands. I was also surprised to see a woman sitting at a desk who I thought might have been a volunteer (with super cool glasses), it was Karen. Karen interviewed me and I was instantly inspired by her and what The Princess Shop stands for. I soon became the newest member of the core volunteer team. I attended my first meeting and I was… confused. It was the middle of grad season and there was a whirlwind of things going on, I had a lot to learn, but I was determined to catch up. I shadowed a dress appointment and got to meet my first Princess Graduates. Soon, grad season was over, and The Princess Shop was coming to its end of year in July. We had the first fundraiser I would attend, and I was blown away by the effort and skill that goes into planning these events and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Over the summer, I helped plan and volunteered at a few fundraisers put on by The Princess Shop. At the end of the summer, we had a lot of changes to the core team and I was nervous about welcoming new members to the team and no longer being the ‘newbie’. Soon after, we started planning The Glass Slipper, our biggest annual fundraiser that takes place every April. I was so in awe of how huge this event really was. I had never attended before, so I was unsure of exactly the magnitude of it. We brought in our Glass Slipper Coordinator, Colleen, and I was blown away by the efforts that she and Karen put in to put all of this together. From October to March, we were in full planning mode every Thursday night to put this together (with Colleen and Karen putting full-time effort into the planning). It was an intense process, and it seriously paid off. The morning of the Glass Slipper I had a final exam, so I wasn’t there for the setup. But when I made it to TCU Place I was awestruck. The venue was so gorgeous and extravagant. It exceeded every expectation I had of the event and immediately all of the work that we had put in for the last few months had paid off. Even with a couple of bumps in the road, The Glass Slipper Benefit in 2019 turned out to be a huge success, and it will be a night I will likely never forget.

After The Glass Slipper, more and more dress appointments started rolling in. I was excited to finally be leading dress appointments having had the proper training. No dress appointment goes completely smoothly, but I think that’s part of the beauty of it. There will always be bumps in the road, but watching the graduates pick out their beautiful dresses is such a fulfilling experience for me. I enjoy lacing up corsets and the graduates trying on their jewellery. Some will facetime family and friends when they think they’ve found ‘the dress’ and get their approval. I was and still am so excited about dress appointments because no matter what, there is always so much happiness in The Shop during this time. Finally, grad days came around. I had my first grad day recently. It was panicky and rushed but it was also amazing. The big day had finally come for these women. The day that is the reason The Princess Shop exists.

At the end of it all, a Princess Graduate had told me how grateful she was for me this day and everything was made so worth it and the panic and craziness of the day was forgotten. It’s been an insane year. From being the new kid to veteran volunteer, I have become not only a better volunteer for The Princess Shop, but I have also become a better person. The Princess Shop, and outgoing Executive Director, Karen, have inspired me so much. I can’t wait to see what the Next Chapter of The Princess Shop looks like with our new Executive Director, Kelsey, and I can’t wait to continue to contribute to making an impact in our community. There is no other experience like this one, and I am so lucky to have found The Princess Shop.

MMIWG - Red Dress Day May 5, 2019

posted by The Princess Shop    |   May 5, 2019 10:48

Today, May 5th, is a day to recognize and honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls across our nation. It is Red Dress Day.

At the 12th Annual Glass Slipper Benefit for Princesses presented by K+S Potash Canada on April 10, 2019, not only did we celebrate our success and positive impact on the community, but we took the opportunity to address this national tragedy. 

For the past number of years, we have hung chandeliers of dresses donated by generous community members as a unique way to provide aesthetic and appeal to the room. This is something no other organization can accomplish with such meaning, as each dress is indeed #morethanadress.

This year, our Executive Director Karen Robson wanted to use that room centerpiece to bring attention to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, due to the connection The Princess Shop has with Indigenous populations beyond providing our programs and services on Treaty 6 Territory. So we hung a red dress in the center of the chandelier that hung over the stage in the middle of the room.

During her speech, Karen took a moment and a deep breath to deliver this message:

“This red dress is to honour the women and girls who do not get to reach the milestone of graduation, celebrate their accomplishments, and continue to pursue success due to systemic violence and the national tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 

This is important to us because over the past decade, 74% of our Princess Graduates have self-identified as Indigenous and have represented 57 First Nations Communities in Saskatchewan. Knowing this, we ask you to give your attention to the challenges that Indigenous women and youth face – there are many. 

The mandate of the national inquiry also highlights the interconnectedness of all forms of violence and trauma Indigenous women and girls suffer from at an alarmingly high rate. According to several advocates, there are over 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. That is too many families that don’t get to celebrate the accomplishments of their daughters, sisters, and mothers.

At The Princess Shop, we know that addressing these systemic issues includes us and is much bigger than us. Our work, as you will see here tonight, continues to positively impact indigenous women and students on graduation day and beyond.”

The national inquiry is set to conclude on June 30, 2019, but this is just the beginning. The stories will still need to be shared, and advocacy and action to improve systems to provide inclusivity but also respect culture will require continued support. 

At The Princess Shop, we encourage our community to learn about these issues, and be a voice to support organizations and individuals. Here are a few websites to start:

National Inqiuiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Native Women's Association of Canada

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

The REDress Project by Jaime Black

 

 

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The Princess Shop's 2019 Bucket-List

posted by The Princess Shop    |   February 25, 2019 19:55

Res·o·lu·tion

/,rezǝ’looSH(ǝ)n/

A firm decision to do or not to do something. 

Most people's January to-do lists mention the idea of a New Year's Resolution. They might work hard on these ideas throughout the year, meet some, change some, or just put them off for the following year's list. This word "resolution", however, is so set on the idea of being able to firmly commit to something and for that idea to then just magically come true. We all want that "law of attraction" to be real, but there's more to it than just that. By this point in the year, most people have come to this conclusion already. We need to work on our goals with a plan of action in place and the proper support systems helping us out. We have many magical ideas that we're always dreaming up, but their ability to actualize depends on so many factors, such that perhaps they fall into a category of their own; a bucket-list of sorts. At the end of 2018, one of the activities The Princess Shop volunteer team went through was drafting up a bucket-list of our own:

Heidi's Bucket List:

  1. Broad awareness about The Princess Shop - it's more than just a dress. It's true! Our Next Chapter and Fairy Godmother programs offer so many life-changing opportunities!
  2. Every graduate should know The Princess Shop is an option and that they don’t need to struggle alone. 
  3. The Fairy Godmother Program could gain more matches that sustain into the future. 
  4. There should be more applicants to all scholarship opportunities as well as a greater variety of scholarships to give out!
  5. The Princess Shop should have a larger volunteer team

Bailey:

  1. Recruit a full team of volunteers by April. 
  2. Record the number of graduates every year. 
  3. Have more rural graduates in the program.

Sarah:

  1. Have more graduates than in 2018. 
  2. Fill all volunteer positions.
  3. Reach goals for the 12th Annual Glass Slipper Benefit for Princesses.
  4. Dream up and organize more fundraising events with a greater turnout.
  5. Have volunteers put in more cumulative hours.

These goals of ours may not be met just by us wishing them into existence, but with continuous action, we hope to see them born into reality. On top of these ideas and our plans, we have a wonderful support system that acts as the final piece of the puzzle working towards The Princess Shop's success - that's you! This all happens because of the people upholding a commitment to this journey with us; volunteers, sponsors, alumni, and everyone working hard for The Princess Shop's success creates an environment of growth and constant improvement. These thoughts are echoed in the volunteers’ bucket-list wishes when they recognize the need for more volunteers and funds - essentially, the need for even more assistance. Many hands indeed make light work and the greater our community, the better!

It is with these goals in mind and with gratitude for the support we receive in our hearts that we move forward into this year. We hope to create some magical memories this year.

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The Princess Shop
our location
12 - 1622 Ontario Avenue
Saskatoon, SK S7K 1S8
t: 306-222-3311

Kelsey Murphy, Executive Director

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