Looking Glass raises funds for eating disorders

Community of love

Mothers whose daughters have suffered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia, Looking Glass Foundation founders Deborah Grimm and Dolores Elliott have dedicated their lives to creating a community of support for young people with eating disorders. Created in 2002, the registered charity aims to curtail the rampant escalation of eating disorders through meaningful prevention and early intervention and to ensure that those who are suffering  — some 1.5 million Canadians — have access to the support and recovery they need.

The dedicated moms doggedly set out to open Canada’s first residential treatment facility for youth with eating disorders and the Woodstone Residence was opened on Galiano Island in 2011. Three years later, the treatment centre would be relocated to Vancouver on the former site of Ronald McDonald House, and renamed the Looking Glass Residence. Since the move, the organization has helped more than 800 sufferers, reports Looking Glass executive director Stacey Huget.

As usual Grimm, Elliot and Huget were on hand for the outfit’s 14th annual fundraiser. More than 300 guests got on board the philanthropy train for the gala festivities held at Peter Armstrong’s Rocky Mountaineer Station. Beautifully transformed into a garden party palace by Art of the Party, attendees were treated to a sparkling reception and delicious Four Seasons Hotel-catered dinner. Following the royal repast, guests heard from Abbotsford’s Tyson Busby, the first young man to receive treatment at the Woodstone Residence.  Often characterized as a mental illness affecting young women, Busby’s candid retelling of his personal struggle with eating, his efforts to hide it and attempted suicides opened eyes, and opened hearts.

“As a man, I found it difficult to access help, most of it was tailored for young girls,” he said. “My wife came across The Looking Glass Foundation.” Now recovered, the father of two’s heartfelt story also opened wallets, as more than $138,000 flooded in during the call out for cash. Coupled with auction totals and ticket sales, the night of love would raise a reported $380,000 to enhance residential recovery programs, provide peer-to-peer support, and train a growing pool of volunteers raising their hands to help.


Looking Glass Foundation chair Malcolm Leitch, director Debbie Slattery and executive director Stacey Huget welcomed 350 guests to the Rocky Mountaineer for the foundation’s flagship fundraiser. Fred Lee / PNG

Keynote speaker Tyson Busby credits his wife Jessica Melo and the Looking Glass Foundation for the recovery from his eating disorder. Fred Lee / PNG

Looking Glass Foundation gala chair Jennifer Johnson and communications manager Nicole Keay thanked garden party attendees for the show of love and $380,000 raised to support young people with eating disorders. Fred Lee / PNG

Dr. Julia Raudus, Patty Yoon, Lauren Jennings and Hannah Robinson from St. Paul’s Hospital’s provincial adult tertiary specialized eating disorders program lent their support to the cause. Fred Lee / PNG

Looking Glass residence practitioners Liz Varcoe, registered nurse; Alexandra Wilson, nurse clinician; and therapist Melissa Pickett joined a community of supporters for the annual fundraiser.