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Family's loss leads to help

In the wake of a former Kelowna resident’s sudden death, her family is ensuring the community benefits in the same way she lived her life – by helping those less fortunate.

Kristen Porrelli, the 22-year-old daughter of local lawyer Barry Porrelli and his wife Laurie, died July 3 in Vancouver. According to her obituary, she spent a lot of time volunteering as a candy striper at hospitals, assisting in building an orphanage in Haiti, and helping out at a society for the terminally ill in Vancouver.

Her family asked that donations be made to the local women’s shelter in lieu of donations, and that has caused an outpouring of support.

“The shelter has already received $7,000 in donations in Kristen’s memory, including a donation from singer Michael Buble, an artist at the entertainment company for which Kristen worked,” says Karen Mason, executive director at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to the local community and the Porrelli family’s friends and supporters. That something so beautiful can come out of this tragic and unnecessary loss is humbling and inspiring.”

Mason says this is the largest total amount they’ve ever received in honour of a single person in recent years.

“We noticed over the couple of weeks in the wake of her death, a huge amount of cheques coming in her name, and we got to the point where we thought it would be a nice gesture to thank the community and let people know how the community came together in honour of Kristen,” says Mason.

“Money we receive like this makes a huge difference in the services we’re able to provide. For example, we spend $30,000 per year on groceries to feed the women and children who stay in the shelter.”

The shelter has been serving the community for 35 years. It provides emergency transitional housing, counseling and other support and education programs for women and their children who have experienced abuse.

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