A girls’ night out with purpose

The Women of Film and TV team posing for a group photo before heading to the sleep site: Kim Bondi, Jocelyn Hamilton, Susan Kelly, Azy Chobak, Amutha Haslam, Kristina Duncan and Maria Duncan.

In late May, a group of women from the film and television industry gave up the comforts of home to spend the night outside in support of at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth at Covenant House Toronto.

A total of 56 women, armed with sleeping bags and cardboard, took part in the second annual Covenant House Sleep Out: Women Unite event, raising more than $257,000 for this important cause.

Of the three Sleep Out events organized by Covenant House, this one is unique in that it is an opportunity for women of all walks of life to unite together to make a positive change in the lives of the city’s most vulnerable.

Life on the street is not easy for anyone, especially young women who are at risk of experiencing violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking. In Toronto, over 38 per cent of homeless women are victims of sexual assault.

“I attend a number of events and this one really stands out because it provides a glimpse of how hard it is for the youth who are living on the street,” says Susan Kelly, Senior Director with CBC English Services, Women Unite event committee member and head of the Women of Film and TV fundraising team. “It also provides the opportunity to take action and make a tangible difference in the lives of the young people who turn to Covenant House for help.”

This event had particular resonance for the Women of Film and TV team as they work in an industry where women have also faced gender-based violence, inequality and exploitation, as evidenced by the recent #TimesUp and #MeToo movements.

“The reason this event is so important is because no matter what industry you’re in, I think women banding together and supporting one another, and supporting young people, is critical. If we all continue to do that, and if Covenant House helps along the way, we are going to make change,” says team member Kristina Duncan.

The women, representing various organizations across the industry including CBC, Cineflix and Entertainment One raised $29,000 in support of Covenant House, ranking in second place of the top fundraisers for this event.

Second-time participant Kim Bondi, Executive Vice President of Programming and Production at Cineflix, was driven by the need to raise awareness about how homelessness can happen to anyone’s child: “This is about kids who are like our kids – they could be middle class, well-educated kids living in a comfortable home but then a left turn takes them into the streets,” Bondi remarks. “It’s nice to know how much we can actually do with positive power.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity next year to experience a girls’ night out with a purpose. To learn more, visit www.womensleepout.ca

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