Lynne Rosychuk from Morinville is working to create a society without tolerance for domestic violence.
In 2009, Rosychuk's daughter, Jessica Martel, was tragically murdered by her common-law husband. Martel had been planning to escape the abusive relationship with her three children for quite some time, but was unable to find a safe place to go. She was killed the day she was going to leave.
"In an effort to make change in our community and make sense of this horrible tragedy, myself and a group of amazing individuals decided to start the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF)," Rosychuk said.
The foundation started in 2012. Their goal is to provide support to vulnerable individuals and families who are experiencing domestic violence in the Sturgeon County area.
One of their big projects is Jessie's House, which will be an inclusive shelter for people escaping domestic violence cases.
The Town of Morinville donated a piece of land to the foundation in 2016 and they broke ground on the 9,000 square foot site to build their safe house in September 2018. The build is scheduled to be completed in July and the shelter is expected to be operational in early 2020.
The cost of the building alone will be approximately $1.3 million. They also require an additional $500,000 to furnish the house. The organization is still raising money to cover both the building and the operational costs for the first couple of years.
In the past seven years, they have raised nearly $2 million.
"Our communities in Sturgeon County have been very supportive and it's just helped us grow to where we are today," Rosychuk added.
Most of the money has gone towards the house. However, some of the funds are being put into the foundation's Family Violence Outreach Program, where they give support to survivors of domestic violence and provide public education about the issue.
Some of their biggest fundraisers include an annual run in June, a fall gala and a JMMF Blizzard Day at the Morinville Dairy Queen, which will be held on Thursday (Feb.28) this year.
A video on Jessica Martel's story can be found here.