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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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My Year Volunteering at The Princess Shop

posted by The Princess Shop    |   December 29, 2018 10:32

Written by Heidi Anderson

I am very grateful for the volunteer position that I was given the opportunity to have over the past year at The Princess Shop. 

In December 2017, I was looking for a consistent volunteer commitment that I could take on that would be of a benefit to my community.  When I first heard about The Princess Shop I was interested in the idea that they are helping women in need and being apart of reducing and reusing grad dresses. Reducing and reusing are two concepts that I try and follow in my personal life. I love art and expression, but I feel like we live in an overly commercialized culture filled with so much stuff.  On further inspection I learned about the rest of the programs – it is so much more than a dress. If a graduate uses The Dress Program they gain access to other programs and attendance at the main events. There is The Dress Program, The Next Chapter Program and The Fairy Godmother Program. The full name of The Princess Shop is The Princess Shop Mentorship and Female Youth Development Inc. The Princess Shop mission is to create an enhanced graduation experience for female-identified students in need, and provide them with mentorship, support, and the tools to pursue success after graduation. 

My first meeting was overwhelming, and it took awhile to understand everything that The Princess Shop does, what was expected of me, and how the organization is run.  It takes a lot for this organization to run effectively. Thankfully, the rest of the volunteers and Karen Robson the executive director were patient and understanding. They were also able to adapt with me as I went through some life changes like a work scheduling change. I felt supported by these women and that they wanted what was best for me. This was a refreshing change as in many avenues in my life I have felt a sense of rivalry from my female peers.  I felt as if my volunteer contributions were appreciated! As women we should be all be trying to encourage one another and build each other’s self esteem. Empowered women empower women.

I took on the position of the Fairy Godmother Program Coordinator. I felt this was the right fit for me as I have an interest in and a background in education.  The Fairy Godmother Program is a mentorship program and it was sponsored by TD. An interested princess graduate is partnered up with a woman in the community that wants to be a mentor to a princess graduate. All the participants were interviewed and matched into pairs. These women keep in touch throughout each month. They are also expected to attend monthly activities that are put on from September to March. This season we have had a lawn games activity, a pumpkin painting activity, a skin care workshop with local business Green Tree Beauty, and a holiday party so far.

 

It was great to see the connections made!  Mentorship is a learning opportunity for the mentee and the mentor. Even though attendance was a struggle at times for the participants, it didn’t take away from the value of the program. It was clear that it was making a difference for the people who were apart of it. Having the program as an option available for those that want to utilize it, is a value in and of its self. Having someone that supports you and is your cheer leader in life is so important for your personal growth. Imagine never having that and then getting the opportunity to have that!  I love that each season past matches can continue to be apart of the program. My wish for the Fairy Godmother Program is that it grows. If you want to be a role model in a princess graduate’s life, please apply to be a Fairy Godmother as The Princess Shop will be seeking new fairy godmothers to join the program next season. 

The Dress Program

Being at dress choosing appointments, it is interesting to see all the sorts of people that use The Dress Program and what their style preferences are. The participants are encouraged to choose something that interests them. At The Princess Shop there is so many styles of dresses, shoes and accessories to choose from and you are encouraged to be you. I really liked complimenting the ladies when they found a dress and seeing how appreciative they were for the experience. My favorite comment from a graduate when choosing a dress and accessories was, “I feel like Beyonce.” 

 Graduation Days

On the graduation day it is a very busy and exciting time! The graduates can have their hair and makeup done and get professional photos taken.  Seeing the graduates light up is very rewarding for all involved. My favorite moment on a grad day was watching an elderly lady who was about to graduate and she brought her son with her.  She explained that over the years she wasn’t often able to make herself a priority and was very nervous for graduation. As she was done up and went to pictures, you could see the confidence in herself build. 

The Perfectly Pink Appreciation BBQ

The BBQ is a great time to gather with all the princess shop participants, their families and supporting community members. We had such a great turn out this year and almost all the food was eaten! There was even a bouncy castle for the children.  During the BBQ the recipients of the scholarships from the next chapter program were announced! This BBQ has been sponsored by a Fairy Godmother Kari Calder of Kari Calder Realty for a very long time which provides the opportunity for Princess Graduates and their families to attend at no cost.

The Next Chapter Program

The Next Chapter Program is The Princess Shop’s scholarship program. What I really appreciate about the Next Chapter Program is that it doesn’t matter how many years ago you utilized the dress program, you are still able to apply for the scholarships! If The Princess Shop exists, a past Dress Program participant is able to apply to those scholarships. There are so many great scholarship opportunities and learning workshops offered through the program. At the Glass Slipper Benefit this year a scholarship opportunity was bid on and $9,300 was raised! 

The Glass Slipper Benefit for Princesses presented by K+S Potash Canada

The Glass Slipper Benefit is the largest fundraiser event put on by The Princess Shop. Lots of work is put into this event and planning begins very early on every year. Sponsors and silent auction items are gathered from all around our community. It is very inspiring listening to the speeches given at the gala by past princess graduates explaining how the princess shop has impacted their life.  

If you are interested in going to the Glass Slipper Benefit, it is best to get your ticket early as it saves you money.

There are many fundraising events that are put on all year round by The Princess Shop like the upcoming cupcake contest held on January 29th of this year during the Nutrien WinterShines Festival. The Cupcake Contest is where bakers compete by creating a cupcake modeled off a dress from The Princess Shop and guests get to judge and decide what cupcake was their favorite. It’s only $10 to attend and sample all of the cupcakes.  The Princess Shop is always interested in different creative fundraising ideas, so they can continue to have the funds to run. 

Unfortunately, I cannot continue as the Fairy Godmother Coordinator as I will be moving out of the city and have travel plans in 2019. I will however continue to show support in the ways that I can. The Princess Shop is always seeking help in many ways from small to large commitments. Please reach out and contact them if you want to contribute in any way. 

I am approaching ten years since I graduated high school. At that time, I really did not see that much significance on the day of graduation. I viewed it in many ways just like any other day and that graduating high school wasn’t that big of a deal. As I have lived my life for the past ten years and reflected, I have seen the value in celebrating positive moments and successes in life. Life is simply too short not to celebrate.  

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#GivingTuesday Can Be Everyday!

posted by The Princess Shop    |   November 27, 2018 13:19

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, we would like to thank everyone who gives to The Princess Shop throughout the entire year, whether that is a dress, sponsorship, cash donation, office supplies, volunteer time, word-of-mouth recommendations, or even by engaging with our social media. It all makes a positive impact. Please get in touch if you'd like to contribute in your very own way.

We are proud to have grown BEYOND the dress and graduation day to so much more. We address needs in the community for further success and pursuit of goals through mentorship, scholarships, housing, financial literacy, work readiness, and wellness literacy. We wouldn't have got here without your support.

Thank you!

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

Kelsey Murphy, Executive Director

Office Hours:
Mondays: 9am - 12pm, 1pm - 6pm
Tuesdays: 9am - 1pm
Thursdays: 12pm - 8pm

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