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WOMEN IN BUSINESS: Project Bloom celebrates six years
Project Bloom began six years ago as most good ideas do between friends: over a glass of wine and good conversation.
Kathie Madden, a local businesswoman and event planner, and former South Delta Leader publisher Chrissie Bowker decided to use International Women’s Day as a reason to get local businesswomen together for networking and support.
The first event was held in 2009 at LaBelle Auberge in Ladner and Madden says she was “scared” the idea wouldn’t catch on.
“We honestly did not know if anybody would show up,” she recalls.
But the event was so successful and popular that it continued year after year. Soon, Madden says it evolved into a fundraiser for local issues affecting women.
In 2011, Laurel Middelaer was invited as a speaker to the event to talk about the tragic death of her four-year-old daughter Alexa, who was killed by a drunk driver while feeding a horse in east Ladner. Proceeds from the event went to the Alexa Middelaer Memorial Fund set up to reduce impaired driving related injuries by 2013 through public education and advocacy.
“We just felt as women it was important to support another mother,” says Madden. “And she didn’t even know we were going to do it. We decided at the last minute.”
Amanda MacLeod, co-owner of Tsawwassen-based business …And Then Again is a Project Bloom partner who began selling vintage silverware with her mother two years ago. She says reaching out to other businesswomen in her community has helped her business grow and flourish.
“It’s important that local businesswomen know about each other and are able to help and support each other,” she says.
As primary caregivers, women sometimes find it difficult to earn a living without sacrificing their important role in early childhood development. But with the help of her mother, MacLeod says she can stay at home to take care of her four-year-old and still run a successful business. In fact, mom’s there to help on both fronts.
“We’re different from each other but one of us will have an idea and bounce it off the other and come up with a collaboration,” she says.
Lindsay Eldridge, who started the business Nurse Next Door in 2008 with her father, knows how important it is for women to have family support. Women sometimes need a reminder to take care of their own health needs because they’re often busy taking care of everyone else around them, she says.
“I can’t tell you the amount of times I have seen a woman who is the primary caregiver for her spouse end up in the hospital from exhaustion.”
Nurse Next Door is also a big employer of women. In fact, of the 69 employees in the company, Eldridge says 68 of them are female.
“About 70 per cent of our clients are female, too. Which I find interesting. But I guess us ladies sometimes live a little longer than men,” says Eldridge with a smile.
As an in-home caregiver service, the mandate of her company is to help seniors whose health have deteriorated to the point where they require a little extra help. Eldridge says Project Bloom will be a reminder that women need to take care of each other and promote good health.
Veronica Carroll, executive director at the Delta Hospital Foundation, says attitudes about health are changing and people are understanding the importance of preventative care.
“We have different health events [than men],” she says. “We have children–or we attempt to have children–so reproductive issues come up very early in our lives. So, we’re already dealing with certain things just as a matter of course.”
Carroll says that 21,000 women accessed emergency care at Delta Hospital last year, while a further 2,500 women were screened for breast cancer.
“That’s a pretty significant number of women that are coming in with what could potentially be life-altering information,” she says.
Carroll says Project Bloom will be an opportunity for women to come together to support one another in their business endeavours, while funding important women’s health programs and equipment at the hospital.
• Project Bloom will be held on Friday, March 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Harris Barn in Ladner. Tickets are $125 each or $875 for a table of eight seats. All proceeds will go to the Delta Hospital Foundation.