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Saskatoon, Through the Eyes of a Princess Shop Volunteer

posted by The Princess Shop    |   August 4, 2019 19:39

Written by Bailey Woloshyn.

Approaching the fourth and final year of my Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Saskatchewan, I was eager to find a way to get involved in Saskatoon for the last eight months that I would live there. Having spent most of my degree driving from my hometown to Saskatoon on Mondays and back home again on Thursdays, my time spent in the city had been quite limited up until my fourth year. I wanted to change this by becoming active in the community and spending some time volunteering, even if it would be only for a short period. I came across an ad for The Princess Shop and was instantly intrigued by the Fairy Godmother Program since it was similar to mentoring I had done with Big Brothers Big Sisters in the past. After visiting The Princess Shop’s Facebook page, website, and learning more about the organization, I decided to apply. Due to the short-term duration of my commitment to The Princess Shop, Karen Robson, the previous Executive Director, and I decided that a Volunteer Representative position would be ideal as I could contribute to as many parts of the organization that I could manage. While I expected my time with TPS to be exciting and benefit the community, I did not anticipate all of the spectacular experiences that it would lead to for me!  

Here are some of the wonderful places I would never have visited if it wasn’t for The Princess Shop: 

  • Amigos, for The Princess Shop’s Trivia Night (and delicious nachos!) 
  • Sports On Tap, for the Steak Lunch Fundraiser where we watched the Rider Game and enjoyed a fantastic meal 
  • Saskatoon Fashion & Design Festival at the Delta Bessborough, representing TPS in an excellent fundraising opportunity

  

  • The Saskatoon Farmers Market for the Fourth Annual Dress It Up Cupcake Contest 
  • Hilberg & Berk at the Midtown Plaza, for their International Women's Day Reception 
  • The Homestyles Home Show at Prairieland Park where TPS volunteers sold 50/50 tickets as a fundraiser 
  • TCU Place, for the 12th Annual Glass Slipper Benefit for Princesses  
  • Wet Paint Pottery, for our team Glass Slipper Windup  
 
  • Countless Saskatoon and area businesses to drop off requests, pick up donations, and meet our supporters, as well as phone calls to businesses around the province where I was able to introduce owners and managers to TPS and find new donation opportunities  
  • And of course, The Princess Shop, where I was a part of countless meetings, dress appointments, Glass Slipper planning, training, and spending time in office.  

Being part of The Princess Shop allowed me to not only become part of the community in which I lived, but to experience the beautiful city of Saskatoon in a different way! Every week, I was able to see more of the city, meet people who amazed me with their generosity and support, and learned the true meaning of ‘community’ through volunteerism by working towards creating an enhanced graduation experience for all of the beautiful graduates who allow TPS into their lives.  

I am so thankful for the opportunity that I had with TPS and without a doubt, I recommend volunteering with this fantastic organization. The volunteer team, led by the Executive Director, is a dedicated, supportive group of women and I feel so fortunate to have worked alongside these inspiring individuals for eight months. Although I have moved away from Saskatoon and had to move on from The Princess Shop, my time there has left a lasting impression on me. Being part of TPS allowed me so many cool opportunities and I want people to realize it isn't just time-consuming work to volunteer, its also your ticket to experience so many great events while helping out! I am ecstatic to watch this organization grow and change, and I cannot wait to see how far it goes!  

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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140 Smiles, 140 Accomplishments, 140 Lives Changed for the Better

posted by The Princess Shop    |   October 2, 2018 15:36

by April Donauer

The trees are already looking bare, we have a couple of snowy days under our belts, and grad season seems like a lifetime ago. All the same, we would like to take some time and reflect on our 2018 Princess Graduates. They are strong, they are intelligent, they are brave, and they are GRADUATED. Here at The Princess Shop, we feel a sense of pride when we send out the dresses on grad days. Each dress belongs to a girl who has reached a truly special milestone and each girl has had her own journey. We celebrate each journey and congratulate each achievement. 

This past grad season was a truly remarkable one. What made it particularly special was that it could not have been possible without the support of our community. We had volunteers help mend dresses, volunteers assist in appointments, businesses that donated funds, hair services given, make-up services given, photography services given, and dresses donated. All this to say, The Princess Shop had been able to give back because so much has been given through the support of our community. Thank-You.  

One of the most breathtaking moments of grad season is when a graduate chooses her dress. Whether it’s sleek and low profile or jeweled and dramatic, each dress represents celebration. It represents a unique story, a unique style, and an exciting beginning. The celebration begins when the Princess Graduate comes to pick out a dress. Sometimes there is excitement in her eyes, sometimes fear. Excitement because she is planning to go all out, fear because she has never worn a dress and maybe it won’t look good on her. Nothing replaces the look in her eyes when she has found the dress. She is no longer fearful because she KNOWS she looks beautiful in the dress.

This year we had 140 dress appointments, 140 looks of nervous excitement, 140 success stories that represented 18 different Saskatchewan communities, and 140 Princess Graduates who have celebrated their achievements (in style). 140 represents the number of dresses that were worn to graduation celebrations this year but The Princess Shop is more than dresses. This year, our graduates received $32,000 of scholarships. They worked hard and are now off on new adventures. We also have new graduates connecting to mentors, connecting to community. 140 represents the number of dream chasers and hard workers.

Although back the school rush has faded, the pumpkin spice craze is upon us, and grad season seems like a lifetime ago, we want to say a special thank-you to our 2018 Princess Graduates. Thank-you for allowing us to be a part of your day. Thank-you for allowing us to sit next to you while you flashed looks of delight in that mirror when you saw how beautiful you looked. Thank-you.  

 

ps. You can be a part of this impact, too! Click here for more information on how to get involved.

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There are so many different ways to step in and get involved...

posted by The Princess Shop    |   September 26, 2018 12:38

Don't have much time to join our volunteer team as a coordinator? No problem. While we are looking for the right people to fill those important roles, we also thrive from the additional support we receive through various ways that don't require year-round commitment.

#1 Follow us on Social Media 
We mean actually following the page and sharing our posts and engaging with them (liking and commenting). This keeps us relevant in the feed and raises awareness of our successes and programs. Maybe you'll be the connection between us and a new sponsor or volunteer? Who knows?

Find us on Facebook & Instagram

#2 Join our Helping Hands list
This is a casual volunteer opportunity and the commitment is when you choose it to be! Those on our Helping Hands list receive emails when we are seeking help. Those who can, sign up; those who cannot, continue with their day as if nothing happened. No stress! Options range from Glass Slipper event help to Dress Appointment support. Email us with your contact information if you're interested! Contact us to put your name and email on this list.

#3 Coming Forward with a Special Skill You'd Like to Contribute
Do you enjoy sewing? There are plenty of small sewing jobs on dresses that range from beginner to expert. We have sewing supplies here so you can just come on in during our office hours and repair some dresses! Other ideas are running errands for us such as picking up donations from our donation partners, or coming forward with a fundraising idea!

#4 Attend an Event (and Bring All Your Friends)
As a small nonprofit organization doing big things in our community, we really rely on support from all angles. We do our own fundraising throughout the year, and would love to have you attend one of our many amazing events throughout the year (hint: Save the Date for April 10th - Glass Slipper Benefit).

#5 Join our Core Volunteer Team
Okay - so we have to add this option in just in case! Are you ready to jump in and be a part of the decision-making and direct impact? Check out our volunteer positions currently open by clicking here. Being a part of the core team provides so much benefit such as a new perspective, practicing real interpersonal and professional skills, enhancing your creative brainstorming, and seeing your ideas come to life because we can!

We are always happy to help and answer your questions, so contact us!

5 Benefits to Volunteering at The Princess Shop

posted by The Princess Shop    |   August 29, 2018 16:30

Volunteering at The Princess Shop provides so many life-changing opportunities for individuals – and we aren’t just talking about the 1,000+ at-risk women we have impacted on graduation day and beyond with our additional programming offering mentorship or scholarships… but the volunteers!

At The Princess Shop, our volunteers aren’t here to just do menial tasks (okay, about twice a year they will stuff envelopes), they are here to create the impact. This comes in many forms throughout the seasons of a year, but where it is truly special is through the opportunity to not just be a part of the impact, but create the impact through building opportunities, solving problems, an generating new ideas and goals.

There are so many benefits to volunteering at The Princess Shop, but here are a few key highlights:

1-Positive Team Culture – this is our secret weapon. We are all in this together to create the impact. Everyone’s ideas are welcomed to the table. In addition, this means no one is ever alone. We work as a team to complete tasks and keep the momentum moving forward.

2-Empower – through our positive team culture, volunteers at The Princess Shop become empowered to bring ideas to the table that will change lives. For example, Jasmine, our Next Chapter Program Coordinator, thought of the idea for a housing scholarship to assist with living costs for a Princess Graduate attending post-secondary schooling. The result? A full year free rent with Boardwalk. This idea emerged in autumn of 2017, and our first recipient of this scholarship got the keys to her new home August 2018.

3-Creativity – as a small nonprofit organization, we have the power to make our decisions to best suit the organization. This means we get to exercise our creativity skillsets when it comes to problem solving and idea generation.

4-Learning – interpersonal and professional skills are a major takeaway for volunteer team members. Part of this comes from confidence built through our positive team culture and putting into practice skills that make real-life results.

5-Fulfillment – again, being a direct impact on the lives of at-risk students as they prepare for graduation, post-secondary, career, and life goals, comes with direct fulfillment. We are so proud of our Princess Graduates when they reach that graduation day milestone, get accepted into post-secondary, or get a great job. We help motivate them at their dress appointments by sharing with them all of the opportunities to continue to be a part of The Princess Shop community.

Interested in joining us yet?  Visit this page to check out our amazing volunteer opportunities.

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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

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

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