A very active fundraising committee hosts annual fundraising events that are gaining prominence as awareness of the significance of Ty Watson House grows. The Black Ty Gala and the ATV Raffle were huge successes again this year. This month saw the appeal to “Friends for Life” launched. Indeed, the very first “profit for non-profit” society in Canada, Pot Luck Ceramics, was borne out of this hard-working committee.
Throughout the three and a half years that Ty Watson House has been operating, members of the community, including several business owners and many small groups of socially-conscious people, have also stepped forward with creative fundraisers. On occasion, an enterprising and energetic individual will take on a project alone.
Such is the story of Anna Maria Gaiga. For three years, Anna Maria has raised funds for Ty Watson House by selling plants from her home. This year she added a new component to her sales. By making the ethnic delicacy of rum-infused crostoli pastry (a grueling four-hour process) and selling it door to door, she raised another $1000 dollars to bring this year’s total donation to $3020.
Surprisingly, gardening and baking were not part of Anna Maria’s childhood training in her home town of Friuli in Northeastern Italy. She was raised by nuns in a Catholic boarding school and home crafts were not part of the curriculum. “I learned to love reading, especially about archeology, astronomy, gerontology and history”, she says with a bright sparkle in her soft blue eyes as she cuts up organic celery from her garden for her four-year old great grandson who, along with her six grandchildren, is the great love of her life.
“When I met and married my husband, who came from a strong agricultural family, I felt that I did not fit in…in fact, I think they really wondered about me,” Anna Maria laughs. “I wanted to be accepted by this wonderful, large family and was determined to embrace the domestic arts.”
Her vast garden, her well-appointed home with its numerous petit point tapestries and the rich tomato sauce simmering on the gleaming stove attest to her success.
Anna Maria’s interest in Ty Watson House was a natural evolution from the volunteering that she had been doing in the community, specifically with the Women’s Resource Centre, the Salvation Army and visits to Fir Park and Echo Village. She has also supported friends and family members in their elderly years, an interest that was evident even in childhood. “I love people.” She humbly shrugs, “It is no big deal…it’s just who I am…I am drawn to children and the elderly who need love, understanding and support. I am especially fortunate that my husband supports the charitable endeavors I get involved in. He’s proud of me. He’s a good guy.”
With her plants all divided and ready for the winter, allowing them to be especially robust by the spring, Anna Maria will hold a final plant sale in 2012.