“Intolerable” author helps My Friend’s House

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Collingwood women’s shelter My Friend’s House will hold its second annual Creemore fundraiser at the Station on the Green on Saturday, September 14.
While last year’s inaugural event featured local playwright Dan Needles as the keynote speaker, this year the spotlight will be on Kamal Al-Solaylee, a Canadian journalist who published Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes in 2012.

Recalling a childhood spent in Beirut, Egypt and Yemen and shedding light on the politics and culture of a complex part of the world, Intolerable is at its root the story of what its like to grow up as a gay person in an intolerant society.

The book also touches on the status of women in the Middle East, a subject that dovetails quite nicely with the My Friend’s House cause.

“In the Middle East society takes one step forward and two steps back,” said Al-Solaylee. “The advent of the Internet and social media in the last two decades made many people in the Arab world realize that life in fear and under political dictatorship is no longer an option. Women were among those marching in Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011 demanding more rights and freedoms. But their protest was coupled with an increase in sexual assaults and violence against women. And so it continues.”

Despite the vital importance of the services that My Friend’s House provides to Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, The Blue Mountains and Clearview Township, the organization operates each year with a funding shortfall of $170,000. That money is raised by volunteer fundraisers, who must get creative with their efforts.

The Creemore area has always been generous, said My Friend’s House executive director Alison FitzGerald. Last year’s Station on the Green event was a big success, and it’s hoped that this year will bring in even more funds. “It’s about awareness as well,” she said. “Events like these introduce My Friend’s House to a different demographic, and violence toward women extends across all demographics. So yes, we need the financial support, but we also want to get the word out.”

My Friend’s House board member Kathy Simpson and volunteer Fran Breithaupt, both from Creemore, are hard at work organizing a live auction that will also play a large part of the Creemore event.
Tickets for the September 14 event are $30 and are available at Curiosity House or at ticketscene.ca.

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