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MareksLadyD

The Shade Tree visit

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This morning I woke up early slightly hung over from our night of GAL fun thinking "do I really want to go see the Shade Tree?" My roommates were all slowly moving as well but we powered through and headed down to the lobby to find we'd missed the group caravan and wondered should we still go. The four of us hopped a cab and found our way to the Shade Tree Women's Shelter anyway and I cannot accurately express just how glad I am that we did. It has changed me. I seriously believe that.

From the moment we stepped out of the cab and I saw the pet shelter attached I knew this was a cause, a charity, a life saving movement that I would forever be proud to support. We started by watching a dvd that I am sure will soon be linked to our site so you all can see the wonderful empowering work this establishment accomplishes on a daily basis. They are one of only 8 shelters in the country to provide on site animal care, an issue I can say I never thought of when thinking of domestic abuse situations, but it is a need they saw and now fulfill and so many are helped to heal because of it. Not a bed is empty in the shelter. Ever.

Not a one of the 30 or so of us touring the site were uneffected. Some were effected immediately, tissues were found and needed often, for me the visit into the children's center and the artwork seen on the wall grabbed my heart and squeezed tightly. I sit here now with misty eyes as I see clearly in my mind the water color painted by a 13 year old girl titled "A Mother's Silence". Although some of tears shed were from empathy or sympathy, mostly the emotion was born from a sense of awe at what these once hopeless women and children have found and at the brightness now in their futures because of The Shade Tree.

GALS I am posting now while this visit is fresh to tell you that you should all be proud. If at all possible dig deep and support this cause that embodies ALL of our GALS motto and vision. They teach these women and these children that they matter, that they can be safe and that they do have hope. They teach them skills and provide them tools to help them find a place of pride within themselves and the world. I have never been ashamed or quiet at my association with GALS, quite the opposite in fact, but I can honestly say that i have never been prouder to attach my name to a site. Thank you Susan for letting God guide you to this cause, a pairfect match for this site. PAIRFECT.

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Oh, my, thank you Dawn for sharing your perceptions about the Shade Tree visit! It does, indeed, sound like the perfect match for GALS.

:hug1:

Connie

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Please,make sure Mr. G's people know of your experiences. If they haven't already heard or seen picutres of the place, please make sure they do. I'm confident Mr G would be proud to be connected, in his small way, to such a wonderful, wonderful organization & the donations that are going to be made by his fans /friends.

The Divine Miss S :rose:

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Thank you for the report, Dawn.

Please, if anyone would like to contribute towards our efforts for The Shade Tree

to add to the Con total raised, please use the PayPal link at GALS Charitable Foundation

or a check may be sent to the address listed there.

:thankyou:

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Dawn, I'm sorry I hadn't seen this earlier so that when we were chatting I could have told you how your account moved me.

As a long time supporter of organizations similar to this one in the Boston area, I know the importance of the work they do and that, unfortunately, the need for them never ends.

Aligning ourselves with an organization such as this one, reaffirms my pride in being a GAL as well.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

:hugs:

Sheri

Edited by Hobbes

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Thank you sheri. :kiss: wish you were with us.

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I was lucky enough to be part of the group who toured the Shade Tree Shelter, and I was one who often had to pull out the tissues. It so touched my heart to see the mothers who were once again given hope and a sense of safety. But to hear a young boy say "I love it here, no one hurts you" just melted me to a little puddle. If there is any way you can help support this incredible place, I urge you to do so. Please follow the link that Barb just posted to the Gals Charitable Foundation and give what you can. It will make your heart feel really good!

Suzie

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Dearest Vegas and Virtual Con GB GALS:

I have told and retold the experiences of the weekend to the staff of The Shade Tree today. With each sharing of the destiny that brought all of us to the moment of welcoming the GB GALS into a day at The Shade Tree, I was filled again with overwhelming gratitude for the open hearts of the guests. I knew that all of you were deeply touched by the women and children and their pets that were staying with us but at the same time I was keenly aware that there were so many other ways you all could have spent your morning in Vegas. We have music and arts, comedy and gourmet dining, everything to make a visit to Vegas an escape from the stresses of everyday life. Instead of escaping though, you chose to embrace their pain, empower them on their journey, and ensure their days and nights ahead are safe. It is that knowledge that set the foundation for my admiration of all of you.

The tour and your connection to our cause turned out to be just the beginning of the story though. Each one that visited shared the experience with another and by the time the gala began, the connection had been made with everyone. The compassion and generosity during the auction, the giftbags of wonderful treasures, the moments at the end of the evening gathering sea shells for the children to have, and even pet store gift cards given anonymously touched my heart. On Sunday when I was back at the shelter with some volunteers that were painting, a new wave of generosity led some to come back to the shelter and make a delivery of food, sea horse pictures, shirts, movies, more sea shells, dinnerware, and a check. They were messengers of love and compassion toward the women and children rebuilding their lives.

I have not ever met any group with more genuine compassion for the women and children we serve. It was such an uplifting experience to have been a part of this journey. On behalf of the dogs, cats, babies, school children, teens, mothers, and grandmothers whose lives have been touched by your actions during the convention- THANK YOU! May the generosity and friendship offered to The Shade Tree be returned to you a million times over.

All of you remain in my thoughts and prayers. Marlene

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Pass me the tissues~again!

Thank you Marlene for your very kind words.

I was one of the lucky ladies who got to attend the tour of The Shade Tree campus. While I was not in the group led by Marlene, my group was led by the very sweet Brenda. She was very helpful in explaining exactly what the programs were and did. We saw briefly some of the activities that the women get to do and saw lots of playing kids.

One thing that The Shade Tree has that no one has mentioned is a on-site clinic. This was something that really impressed me. Because it provides yet another level of safety for these women. No need to go to the hospital or Dr's office where they can be found.

As someone who was homeless for 9 months, I can truly appreciate the help that they offer. I hope our affiliation with this great organization continues for many years.

Thank you Susan for leading us to them.

Oh cr*p I need a tissue......

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I was lucky enough to be part of the group who toured the Shade Tree Shelter, and I was one who often had to pull out the tissues. It so touched my heart to see the mothers who were once again given hope and a sense of safety. But to hear a young boy say "I love it here, no one hurts you" just melted me to a little puddle. If there is any way you can help support this incredible place, I urge you to do so. Please follow the link that Barb just posted to the Gals Charitable Foundation and give what you can. It will make your heart feel really good!

Suzie

I feel the same way, Suzie ... at first I felt slightly embarrassed that my tears were spilling over, but I looked around and saw that everyone was clearly touched by the Shade Tree's story. I can't tell you how proud I was Saturday night as we all dug deep and contributed to this worthy cause by our participation in the raffles and auctions. I have never been homeless or abused, but can only imagine the fear and pain that most certainly these women and children feel. Thank you Susan for finding this worthy cause.

Barbara

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For personal reasons, I am one of the GALS that didn't attend the Shade Tree tour but just as I suspected, it would be an intensely moving experience for all that went. I was however one of the fortunate ones when my roommates came back with red rimmed eyes and a feeling as if their lives had just been changed forever. To watch as they each came to terms with what they had seen and experienced and turn that into a resolve to become a better person as a result, was awe inspiring.

I didn't have to be there to know that this group is doing an amazing thing by empowering women, encouraging them and their children to know that they don't have to be subjected to any form of abuse, whether it be physical, verbal or emotional.

It takes a great deal of trust and faith in order to assist someone out of a situation such as the one these women find themselves immersed in and it is my belief that the people at the Shade Tree are on to something absolutely spectacular. One didn't have to attend the tour to feel the overpowering and enveloping love and compassion that the Shade Tree envisions as it was coursing well throughout the entire night during the convention.

Thank you Susan from the bottom of my heart for being the incredibly savvy person you are in locating this treasure in the desert.

Thank you Dayna for having the compassion and drive even in the face of your own tribulations to reach out and touch people as you do.

Thank you Jennifer for having the finesse to remain in the background, taking no glory for yourself, but having the grace to still be humble in the face of the amazing things you help accomplish everyday.

Thank you Katie for your incredible voice

Thank you Holly for your fantastic wit and humor

Thank you KB for your talent and vision.

Those are just some of the many people I had the privilege to meet through out the five days that I was in Las Vegas, there isn't enough space to say what this week has meant both personally and socially. I can honestly say however, that once you've gone through one of these, you'll understand what I mean when I say there isn't a better group of people out there. People who have taken the time out of their busy lives, no matter what the turmoil, to reach out and connect with their fellow sisters and brothers.

I urge anyone, if you get the chance to go, do it. You won't regret a second of it. I know I don't.

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I urge anyone, if you get the chance to go, do it. You won't regret a second of it. I know I don't.

The only regret I have is chickening out in 06. Every moment since 5AM June 19 2007, and every moment to come at a GALS Con will be treasured moments in my life!

Ili~ you know.... :wuv:

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I said it Saturday night and on other threads - I am not overtly emotional. When asked in those silly "all about you" email questionnaires "when is the last time you cried" I usually had to say "I don't remember." Now I remember because every time I read another account of the weekend I am brought to tears again. Not tears of pain, or distress, or anger - tears of joy, of encouragement, of empowerment, of realizing that a purpose has been found for my life and we, the people who attended the con in Vegas or virtually, and those who will hear about it in the days ahead and be moved, WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the lives of women and children we may never meet face to face.

People keep thanking me, yet I feel I was merely a conduit. I left Las Vegas last year also in tears, because having heard Dayna talk about the mission and the vision for GALS Charitable Foundation I knew I'd found something that rocked me to my core, something that I was meant to do with my life. I got home and started looking on Charity Navigator, a website that ranks the efficiency of various charities and how they use the funds they collect. I knew because our event is in Nevada we have to benefit a Nevada charity in order to have some tax economies that are offered. Almost immediately The Shade Tree popped out at me and I read their mission statement and then clicked onto their own site where I was just blown away by how closely their mission mirrors ours. It was what I call a "God Shot". So I mentioned it to Dayna and we decided to look into it for this year. Then it sort of fell by the wayside and I thought the idea had been forgotten, until I brought it up again and the others took a look and saw what I had seen and that was the start of what we hope will be a long and very synergistic relationship between GALS, GCF and The Shade Tree for many years. Meeting Marlene, and feeling what a loving, compassionate and kind soul she is, made it even more obvious that we had come to the right place at the right time. If you weren't in Las Vegas or on the virtual con thread to hear Marlene talk about the work they do please go here to download the file and see what has moved us so much.

I had the fortune to have been raised by parents who instilled in me the importance of getting an education so I could always be self-sufficient so I was able to walk away from an abusive relationship when I had to. But I feel such a deep compassion for women who do feel trapped where they are abused physically OR emotionally, where they live in fear for their lives, the lives of their children and their pets, where they have been beaten down by fists or words to believing they are worthless. If there is ever anything I can do to help reverse that feeling from a woman's life, or to keep it from ever happening through empowering young girls, then I am on it "like a rat on a Cheeto" as Holly would say. To see the sanctuary provided by The Shade Tree was and still is profoundly emotional.

I cried throughout the tour, but though it appeared I was distressed I was not. I was encouraged and empowered by what I envisioned our purpose to be. While we can do big things like our fundraiser in Las Vegas, The Shade Tree is a place that can use our help in so many other small ways, whether it is providing needed supplies, or clothing, or items that will help the women and children know that they are valuable human beings, they deserve to be treated with respect, and that we care about them.

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I don't think that any of us came away from the tour of the Shade Tree unchanged. I am truly honored to be a part of GALS' efforts to help this worthy cause. As many of you know, my daughter recently lost her job in Los Angeles and had to move back home. She had a home to return to, but how many others have nowhere to go? She attended the tour with me on Saturday, and was also moved. She told me that she knew that without her dad and me she would be homeless too. As we went through the tour, I kept thinking about the country song by Colin Ray, "I Think About You", and the line "every woman used to be somebody's little girl". That made me tear up again!

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Hmmm...perhaps that should be a song our own Songbird considers for next year!

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Hmmm...perhaps that should be a song our own Songbird considers for next year!

I agree, Susan. I think it would be a great song for next year! :D

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I'm so tired I can barely see but I wanted to get a few pictures posted ASAP. These are from our trips to visit the Shade Tree (all are clickable to enlarge).

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Most of the GALS who took the tour (there were a few who got there after the picture taking)

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Noah's Animal House, a unique place which allows a woman to leave abusive relationships and take any pets with her. Doing so has lowered the rate of return to these households to just 1%!!

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The kids at the Shade Tree painted this to welcome others who come there seeking a safe home

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Back of GCF t-shirt

The following are of what I called the Encouragement Wall - beautiful painted mural with affirmations - I love it! I don't recall if we heard what they call it there.

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Sunday return visit to present first check covering the amount of donations received in cash only ($6,200). This does not include checks, PayPal and virtual con contributions, only the cash from raffles and auctions in Vegas.

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We also donated 27 GCF t-shirts in smaller sizes, hopefully they will give a special message to some of the teen girls.

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Hmmm...perhaps that should be a song our own Songbird considers for next year!

I was one of the lucky ones who went to the tour of the Shade Tree. We got lost getting there and missed part of the program, but it hit me in the heart. Last year I jumped out of a long term abusive relationship and if it had not been for my mom, I would have been in a shelter or on the street. I know how trapped and lost some of the clients of the Shade Tree feel. Mom let me bring my little cat with me and she has really been a great help in my healing. I have a long way to go and not much tme to get there as the song says, but with the help and love of my sisters at GALS I can make it. I thank each and every one of you who remembered me from last year and asked after my daughter. Last year was my first convention and it was a great source of healing for me. I was affiliated with another Gerry site at that time, and did not spend a lot of time here on GALS, at that time, but I am spending more and more time here now. Thank you all, who put this site together and keep it running. Thank you all who put the convention together and give us a place to go and play and share our love and respect for a certain 'Scottish Actor who can for now remane nameless. He brought us together but our mutual love and respect keep us together. Our ability to help out someone like the Shade Tree as an individual might not be much, but as a group, the GALS can move mountains. Find us another one for next year, DAyna, Susan, Jenni, Holly, and whomever else I have forgotten. My love and prayers to all of you. I hope that everyone had as much fun as I did and got home safely.

Jade

s

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