As I move through life, I’m learning to set my sights and my energies on the solution, rather than focussing on the problem. It’s sure a better place to anchor myself, and it has much more positive results.

The same philosophy is in evidence with an ambitious project now underway through the Barrie Women’s and Children’s Shelter. This facility had its modest beginnings in an old house on Berczy St. which used to house the Sisters of St. Joseph. It was an exciting period in the Shelter’s life when its clients and staff moved to their state of the art facility in Barrie’s West End. Not only are there spacious living and play areas, but there are many individual bedrooms, looking much like hotel rooms, and a room where clothes are sorted and given to the women and children who escape to the Shelter for assistance.

What these Shelter clients learn is to focus on the solution, to develop new goals, new resources, and new ways of dealing with old problems.

A group of people with very enthusiastic energy has gathered to develop a memorial, an icon which credits the journey that we make as we leave negative situations and focus on what can be instead of what was.

The Spirit Journey is the name of the project. Local artist Debbie Brown, probably best known for her remarkable stained glass work, has been commissioned to develop an outdoor metal sculpture which captures the spirit of people who start again. Debbie’s remarkable sculpture prototype promises to capture light, to reflect energy and to mark effective journeys.

This visible, positive symbol will commemorate not only the pain and loss which motivates the journeys of Shelter clients, but also will recognize the energy and commitment required to make change. The sculpture, Spirit Journey, captures light, features adult and child figures which spin continuously.

The Shelter will use the symbolic sculpture as an icon on gift items, much the same as the MacLaren Art Centre has captured Bill Baird’s Spirit Catcher as its symbol. This project will not only recognize today, but it will help fund meaningful opportunity for tomorrow’s Shelter clients.

This project will be installed and celebrated in a yet-to-be-decided location [from my point of view, a public park would be ideal] in the fall of 1999, and will be installed in time to honour the memory of the 10th anniversaries of the deaths of 14 women engineering students in Montreal.

This sculpture will demonstrate to the community a harmony and commitment towards all citizens. the Shelter is currently raising funds to support the sculpture, and is grateful for the thousands of dollars so far committed.

To write letters of suppport for the project, or to make a donation on behalf of yourself or in memory of a loved one, please call the Shelter at 728-1362 or fax 728-1364. Your cheques can be made out to The Women’s and Children’s Shelter with “Spirit Journey” on the noteline. Cheques can be mailed to Jessie Brandon, 115 Edgehill Rd., Barrie, ON L4N 1C9.

It’s in all our spirits to help!

Thanks, Deb. Thanks, Jessie ... for mobilizing the energies so important for this project.

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