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RibFest brings joy

Thanks to the Interior Savings Sunrise Rotary RibFest, which debuted last fall, one local little girl has a bit more pep in her step and a sunnier outlook on life.

“Our goals in introducing RibFest were to create a family festival, promote fellowship, attract new members while also raising money to support the work Rotary is doing in our community,” said Pat McAllister, President of Sunrise Rotary Kelowna.  “Last year’s event attracted 18,000 people and raised over $26,000, over a one-third of which we are pleased to present to Shoe Bank Canada, to help change lives here at home and in communities across BC and beyond.”

Founded by Jim Belshaw, Shoe Bank Canada is a locally-based non-profit located beside the Kelowna Food Bank.  It provides new and used footwear to anyone in need, including those who need shoes for an interview, to start a new job or, in many cases, to feel more comfortable and confident at school. 

“We experience so many small happy little moments while we put shoes onto peoples feet each week,” said Belshaw. “It is truly humbling and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t receive appreciative hugs and many times we share tears of happiness together.”  

When asked to come up with one moment that explains why he does what he does, Jim recalls a story that began with a phone call from a local elementary teacher.

“I’m wondering if you can help?” the teacher inquired. “I have a young girl in my class who doesn’t play with her classmates, is very quiet, and shuffles into class head-down every day. You see she has a very tough home life, mom in jail and dad is always working. She gets herself up, feeds and dresses herself and walks to school. We are pretty sure she has only one pair of worn out shoes.”

Shoebank Canada volunteers delivered a box full of shoes the next day. And not long after received another call from the teacher. “You have no idea what you have done! She skipped into class singing, showing everyone, more than once I should add, her new runners: the pink and purple ones with the heels that blink when you walk. She used to sit on the school steps by herself at breaks.  Not anymore!  You truly made her day! She is a changed little girl, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

“There are many stories of people in our community who work hard to provide healthy meals and a safe roof over their families’ heads which sometimes means there’s not enough left at the end of the month for shoes,” says Kathy Conway, Interior Savings CEO. “From time to time, every one of us can use a little support to be our best and that’s what RibFest is all about.  It is a true collaboration of local individuals and businesses working to make our community stronger.”

Mark your calendar for September 15, 16 and 17, 2017 to enjoy the 2nd annual Interior Savings Sunrise Rotary RibFest and help make more little girls’ and boys’ lives a bit more joyful.

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