Gala helps raise funds to support sufferers of eating disorders

Deborah Grimm, Dolores Elliott and Cindy Dobbe have dedicated their lives to help those living with eating disorders. Mothers with daughters who suffered from bulimia and anorexia nervosa, they discovered how difficult it was to find resources and care to help their children. Community programs were stretched, hospital admissions had lengthy waiting lists and families desperately seeking care were forced to find help outside of Canada at great personal expense. Not wanting others to go through what they did, the mothers were determined to change the outlook for other families in similar circumstances.

In 2002, through sheer determination and perseverance, they along with other parents established the Looking Glass Foundation for eating disorders, a charity dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding of eating issues and improving the access to programs and services for those suffering. Their Looking Glass Gala would be a major source of funds to fulfil the group’s lengthy wish list of services and programs for sufferers of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

Since its humble beginnings, the organization established the country’s first residential treatment centre for young people. Originally on Galiano Island, the Woodstone treatment facility eventually moved to the old Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver. Renamed The Looking Glass Residence, the 14-bed facility is now operated in collaboration with the Provincial Health Services Authority. The foundation today also operates various outreach services, a unique eight-day summer camp, an online peer mentorship program, as well as a face-to-face support group.

To further support its ongoing efforts, board chair Debbie Slattery and executive director Susan Climie would front the firm’s flagship fundraiser. Now in its 15th year, the event brought together 400 guests — clients, clinicians, doctors, families and friends — to the Rocky Mountaineer Station for the formal dinner and auction. Emceed by Global B.C.’s Sophie Lui, and yours truly, attendees filled the station for the Starry Night-themed affair, a lavish evening of fun and philanthropy celebrating the community of stars that have made recovery possible.

Hearing from mothers, caregivers and those impacted by the mental illness that reportedly affects nearly 1.5 million Canadians, attendees helped the foundation net an impressive $400,000 — a record amount for the event — to further support the 500 individuals that access the non-profit’s services yearly.

“The tremendous support tonight will directly benefit those who participate in our programs and services, will decrease isolation, instil hope and sustain recovery for those impacted by eating disorders across B.C.,” says Slattery.

“We know that recovery is possible because we have witnessed the recovery of many of our program participants,” adds Climie. “Knowing this, we continue the fight against eating disorders. Through innovative approaches to early intervention, support, recovery and relapse prevention, we are able to make a real difference in people’s lives.”