Residents from Valemount, Tete Jaune, and Dunster gathered at the Valemount Legion on Sunday to raise money for the Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society, and to socialize with one another over tea and pastries. All eighty tickets were sold, said organizer Dianne Mickelson. /ABIGAIL POPPLE

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

The Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society held a fundraiser for its Ash Street housing project last Sunday. The Society sold eighty $15 tickets to a spring tea event at the Royal Canadian Legion Valemount Branch to raise money for purchasing furniture, landscaping the building’s yard, and building a gazebo, according to Dianne Mickelson, one of the event’s organizers.

Mickelson, along with Lilian Basarba, Brenda Funk, Sandra Hudson, and Ellen Duncan, make up the fundraising committee for the Ash Street Housing Project.

The committee has been planning the fundraiser on-and-off for years since COVID disrupted their initial plans to have a spring tea, Mickelson and Duncan said. Duncan has been collecting used tea sets for years to host teas for the Seniors’ Club and Senior Citizens Housing Society.

“We all took turns in making [food],” Duncan said of the committee’s preparation for the fundraiser. 

“We had a meeting where we all brought a sample and tried it and changed a few things. My cousin in Kamloops, Marina Cochrane, ran all around town buying teapots for us because we needed so many.”

Duncan also lent several hats to the event – attendees who wore a “tea hat,” adorned with flowers, rhinestones, or other embellishments, were eligible to enter a drawing for donated home decor items. Those who didn’t bring their own hat borrowed one of Duncan’s.

Valemount resident Shirley Gonyou shows off her hat, on which she affixed LED lights and flowers. She plans on making a Christmas-themed hat for next year’s tea, she told The Goat. /ABIGAIL POPPLE

Mickelson said the social aspect of the event was a bonus of holding a spring tea fundraiser.

“We had a virtual tea [during COVID],” Mickelson said. “And then we thought, ‘You know what? It’s time, people are ready for a social.’ And tickets sold out, so it was a good social event.”

Attendees agreed that the tea was a good opportunity to socialize. Heather Funk, who came with her daughters Lily-Belle and Brianna to support the event, said she was there to support housing for seniors and her mother Brenda’s work on the fundraising committee.

“More affordable housing for seniors is necessary,” Funk said. “It’s needed so they can stay in the community.”

Carol Bustin travelled from Tete Jaune to spend a fun afternoon while raising money for seniors.

“This is a kind of throwback thing,” she said about attendees’ tea hats. “It’s fun. I remember my mother having these little rolled up sandwiches with the crusts cut off at her afternoon tea.”

Yolanda Schiller, a Valemount resident, agreed that the food and ambiance were a highlight of the fundraiser.

“Seeing the imagination and creativity of everybody in Valemount is nice,” Schiller said. “Springtime is here, it’s a gathering time for the ladies.”

The spring tea will be an annual event, said Mickelson and Duncan. The Valemount Senior Citizens Housing Society will have another fundraiser in the fall, and it will likely be another social event, said Mickelson.

“This year was a steal of a deal at $15 a plate,” said Mickelson. “But it’s worth it when you see all these people here.”