A perfect fall day brought with it another full house at the annual gala in support of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.
As the welcome reception ended and the evening's program began, Jim Hole was welcomed to the stage to deliver a message of gratitude through the words of his mother, the hospital’s namesake, Lois Hole. A sincere moment that set the perfect tone for an evening of reflection and celebration.
For the first time in its history Harvest Celebration was held in support of two important causes: the first, the addition of a dedicated outpatient surgical suite resulting in improved wait times and outcomes for upwards of 1,000 patients each year. The second, a new initiative called Pregnancy Pathways, that will provide wrap-around care and aims to reduce the number of pregnant and homeless women in our city from 100 to none.
In a poignant moment, a video was shared that provided guests and sponsors with a sincere appreciation for the difference their attendance would make and introduced to the crowd to Marissa Nakoochee, a community champion of the Pregnancy Pathways initiative since the beginning.
The video profiled Marissa's personal struggle with pregnancy and homelessness and the outcome of her resounding achievements as a mother ten years later.
Marissa had also shared her story last November during the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign; a campaign that helped the foundation to raise more than $100,000 for the cause.
When the video came to a close the most emotional moment of the evening took hold when Marissa rose to her feet to be introduced in person.
"Marissa is proof that a drive and determination to succeed will result in success," emcee Carrie Doll shared with the crowd. "Marissa is currently completing a double degree at the University of Alberta in Native Studies and Secondary Education while raising her beautiful son Cordell."
As Marissa rose to her feet, guests surrounded her with love and appreciation, as well as a resounding round of applause; a truly spectacular moment.
The evening also offered a special tribute to Gail Hall. Gail was an award-winning caterer, broadcaster, food writer, a cooking school owner, and an international culinary guide. Sadly, Gail lost her battle with breast cancer last November. During the early years of Harvest Gail volunteered her time and her talent to the organizing committee. It was her talent and love of food that helped to shape and guide the event – helping it grow into the spectacular evening that exists today.
"She was passionate about food, and she was passionate about the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. In Harvest Celebration, Gail’s culinary skills and her love of community intersected beautifully-and we all benefited," shared Sharlene Rutherford, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. "It was my honour to work alongside Gail and she will be truly missed in our community."
An evening full of special moments that won't soon be forgotten by its guests, Harvest Celebration continues to be a must-attend event in the City of Edmonton. If you missed your chance to attend be sure to click here to get on the list for Harvest Celebration news and updates and be among the first to know when next year's tickets go on sale.
For more information about this year's causes and to watch the cause video please visit our Harvest Celebration Cause Page.
Still, want more? Get a real sense for what the evening was all about in our Harvest Celebration 2017 wrap video!