V icky Illes of Mission is turning heartbreak into something positive.
She recently launched her nonprofit Mittens for Kittens Society, in hopes of giving women in transition houses a little love and support.
Mittens for Kittens was started in memory of her own daughter, Jessica (whom she called 'Kitten' as a youngster), who died three years ago at the age of 23. Jessica had become involved with the wrong people - dealing with drugs, gangs, and abusive relationships - and was in and out of transition homes (where Vicky would send her loving care packages).
"Mittens For Kittens Society is our future for Jessica and her daughter [Selena]," says the website www. mittensforkittenssociety.com.
Reaching out to women in transition houses just seemed like the right thing to do to keep Jessica's legacy alive, she said.
"It is a passion of mine to give something loving to women who have endured too much and may just need a little love and compassion in a low ebb, hopefully giving them a little help to look after themselves and remind them of how important they are," said Illes.
Through the Women's Resource Centre, Mittens for Kittens is providing care packages for women in transition who have, in some cases, lost just about everything.
Each of the care packages are different, but include in part: mittens, undergarments, socks or slippers, pajamas, toiletries, special treats and a personal note.
Directors at the transition houses in Abbotsford and Mission are happy with the care packages they have received so far.
"They were thrilled and ecstatic about what we were doing because it's something different, it's supposed to lift them up," said Illes. "It's done in a loving, caring way; it's very personal. We put a little tag in that says 'you're important.'
The goal of Mittens for Kittens is to provide 15 care packages a month, which will be enough for the women who flow through the local temporary shelters each year.