Sole Sisters look to give back to women in shelters ahead of holidays

CHEK

Decked out in Santa hats and reindeer ears, the Sole Sisters are getting into the holiday spirit by giving back to the community.

“Every year at this time, especially, the Soul Sisters come together and we do things for the community, and at this time of year in particular, we are all so grateful and fortunate for the gifts that we have,” says Sole Sisters founder Mena Westhaver.

“We really want to share with others.”

“We can make a difference, and I think that that’s what brings us all together. It just brings so much joy to my heart. We all pitch in together to help those who aren’t as fortunate,” adds fellow Sole Sister Shannon Marshall.

This year, the Sole Sisters are making 50 grab-and-go survival bags for women fleeing domestic violence.

“We call them the sister packs that are combined with all the different things that women need when they arrive at Women’s Transition Home,” says Westhaver.

“They might arrive with nothing except the clothes on the back, so these are necessities to get them through and also some love and care.”

They’re also collecting gently used jackets, sweaters and shoes for Women’s Transition House to go with the sister packs.

“Many women arrive without clothes, without shoes, so I just made a bit of a mission for myself to go out and collect from my friends this week and collected about 45 pairs of gently used running shoes to get people started on their way,” says Amanda Chapman.

When Mena started the Soul Sisters running and walking program 16 years ago, it was to empower women, and it’s still at the heart of everything she does.

“This is what it’s all about. We want to empower women to believe that they can and to know how much they matter. And all of us that come to soul sisters,” says Westhaver.

“We’ve been through different things, different struggles, and we’re just so grateful to have and to be able to do what we can do. We want to share that message.”

Over the years, Mena, who’s also now a Saanich councillor, has made it her mission to give back to the community that rallied around her family when her young son was diagnosed with cancer.

“If I can share and give that back to somebody else that might be struggling right now, or might think that they’re alone. That is a gift in itself,” says Westhaver.

“Mena’s been such a great support for our community and continues to always think of others, and she’s a great example of how we should support our community during the holiday season,” says Chapman.

“It’s always such a fun journey with Mena and all these very strong and beautiful women that do so much to bring goodwill to this community,” says Marshall.

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