Last year, we were approached by a new holiday organization for support. This organization, the Elk Valley Festival of Trees, was just getting off the ground and had aspirations to raise funds for ten non-profit organizations in the Elk Valley. We got on board and were excited to see how the fundraising would go. They had a very successful year, uniting the communities of the Elk Valley in the spirit of giving.
There are a few faces behind this organization but one that stood out to us was Alesha Thompson. Owner and operator of Lilac Media, Alesha is often in touch in regards to clients she represents… many who are non-profit organizations. Many, we learned, that she volunteers her time to support.
Over coffee, I learn that although Alesha first came to Fernie years ago, she moved here permanently with her daughter (Leela) three years ago this month. She still had contacts here and touched base with them to help her get settled. “It was pretty rad,” she recalls. With a background in art and a diploma in Print and Digital Graphics from SAIT, Alesha decided to start her own business, Lilac Media just six months after arriving. “I love working with my hands and being creative, and needed the flexibility of being my own boss.”
To meet new people and get involved with the community, Alesha joined the Fernie Childcare Society board. As Lilca Media grew and evolved, she was approached by various organizations for sponsorship and decided to go with the groups that meant the most to her. With a passion for music, Wapiti was a no brainer. “It’s such a diverse group of people, and a lot of fun,” Alesha says. Last year as the Festival of Trees was getting going, they touched base with her for support. “I liked the idea of raising money for a variety of organizations in need, and decided to help with design and print. This year, I was asked to be on the board so now I’m also helping with ideas, planning and attending events.”
Alesha also tries to lend a hand where she can with other non-profit organizations, such as Wildsight and the Emily BrydonYouth Foundation. Whether it’s volunteering or offering her professional services, Alesha does what she can to help these important organizations within our community make the biggest impact possible.
Talking about all of these organizations brings us back to the Festival of Trees. Events similar to this take place in other cities across Canada. Businesses have the opportunity to sponsor a tree, which then is then professionally designed and decorated and assigned a non-profit organization. The trees are up for silent auction, and individuals within the community can buy tickets and vote for their favourites. All of the money goes towards the organizations and the “most popular” receives an additional amount in recognition. Throughout the two weeks the trees are on display (at the Parkplace Lodge), events take place including a Tree Lighting, Ugly Sweater party, Date Night, multiple opportunities to have photos taken with Santa, and the grand finale and Santa Brunch on December 3, 2017.
This year, the sponsoring businesses are Finning, Sparwood Futures Society, Teck, Black Gold, Fabrite, Canadian Tire, Park Place Lodge, Cameron Enterprises, Bearspaw, Kaltire and MDG. The trees are raising funds for the Elkford Food Bank, SparwoodTreehouse, Elk Valley Hospice, Sparwood Community Fund, Sparwood Toys for Tots, Jumpstart, Fernie Pride Society, Fernie Friends for Friends, the Fernie Nordic Society, The Arts Station and Bright Beginnings Preschool.
The Rotary Club is also doing a Wine Tree Raffle, benefiting the number of organizations the Rotary helps out locally. Each ticket is $20 and the winner wins $1000 at a wine store of their choice.
In all, the Elk Valley Festival of Trees is a fantastic way to expose us all to the spirit of giving. We try each December to share new ways to give back within our community, and are always happily surprised to find new opportunities arising.
Alesha also is appreciative for these opportunities.
“I’ve had to ask for help a lot over the last few years… being on my own as a single mom and starting my own business. Helping other people and organizations is a way for me to give back. It’s hard to ask for help, but we all need help at some point and giving back is a way to show your gratitude. And it makes you feel good!”
1. When did you first arrive in Fernie and what brought you here? The very first time was 2002. Being from Saskatchewan, it was the draw of the mountains and learning to snowboard.
2. Where did you first live in town? In the Hobbit Hollow, the basement suite across from the Pub.
3. What was your first impression? That it was such a male-dominated town that’s for sure! And I was blown away by the scenery and snow.
4. What keeps you here? I feel it’s such an amazing place to raise my child with so many opportunities for her, and a great community full of awesome people.
5. Do you have a favourite Fernie memory? I think maybe when we brought Leela here when she was two from Golden, we came for a weekend and I took her to the ski hill for the first time on Magic Carpet on a snowboard. And then we moved here the next year.
6. What is your favourite time of the year in Fernie and why? I hate to say it, but definitely late summer/early fall because the colours during that time and the ability to still do so many activities. And it’s a quieter time to enjoy Fernie.
7. Where do you see Fernie in 5 to 10 years? I feel like we’re in a huge growth phase right now, no homes for sale and no commercial vacancy. I hope Fernie continues with slow growth, but keeps its character and community feel.
8. How do you start your day or what is one of your daily rituals? Most of my days start with a snuggle and kiss from Leela followed immediately by coffee.
9. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you. I’m actually really shy. If I’m being open with you and talking a lot, I guess I feel comfortable!
10. Quote to live by: If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan never the goal.