Ex-resident scales peaks for good cause

Sam Odrowski

Fort Frances native Haven Labbe visited the Swiss and French Alps late last month in an attempt to climb several peaks more than 4,000 metres in height.
She embarked on the trip to help fundraise for the Fort Frances Women’s Shelter of Hope and spread awareness about the organization.
“I sought out a local charity where a little generosity could make a big impact, a cause that could be helped just by spreading awareness, and a partnership that could help me succeed with my outreach,” Labbe explained.
“With the Women’s Shelter of Hope, I found all of these things.”
Through her trip, Labbe was able to raise more than $1,100 for the local organization that offers emergency shelter services, second-stage housing, a 24-hour crisis line, counselling, housing support, support groups, and many other much-needed services.
“The shelter aims to provide safe and secure refuge for the women and children who have suffered from abuse in the home through providing temporary accommodations and food,” she noted.
“They offer counselling, support, and advocacy to the women and children to aid them through their options.
“They also aim to further the community’s understanding of these issues in an effort to prevent further abuse,” she added.
Labbe is grateful for the money she was able to raise, but feels like spreading the message about the shelter is equally important.
“This fundraiser was not only for donations but to inform as many people as possible about the great programs [the] Shelter of Hope has to offer within the district,” she reasoned.
“If this fundraiser has helped even just one person through donations or awareness, then I feel that is a success.”
Unfortunately, not long after Labbe arrived at the Alps for her fundraising effort, she became ill. As well, a summer heat wave there made the glaciers increasingly unstable.
In response to the conditions, the group she travelled with shifted gears from mountain climbing to a milder hike and rock-climbing adventure while visiting the Alps.
“In the week that I was able to adventure, I crossed crevasses on a glacier for the first time, reached my new record altitude of 3,800 metres, experienced altitude sickness, [and] summited a 3,200-metre peak by climbing via ferrata,” Labbe enthused.
“[I] rock-climbed and abseiled [rappelled] for the first time outside of a gym, scootered down a mountain, and attempted to recover at a spa.
“My favourite new experience was crossing crevasses on a glacier, as it is incredibly intimidating yet stunning,” she added.
Labbe said her biggest accomplishment was summiting the Jegihorn, which is a 3,206-metre climb that she completed while sick.
“It was the most difficult climb I had ever done but I was determined to get to cross the wire bridge near the peak,” she recalled.
Labbe, who is living temporarily in London, England, now is encouraging people to donate online at http://www.womensshelterofhope.org, in person at the shelter, or via the shelter’s mailing address (P.O. Box 818, Atikokan, Ont., P0T 1C0).
“All donations are held in a separate fund that are spent solely on the women and children being served by these programs to ensure their safety, health, and well-being,” Labbe stressed.
“I want people to know that there is no donation too small,” she added.
“Spare some pocket change, skip a trip through the drive-thru, or take a look around the house–I promise it will make a big difference for someone in need.”
Labbe also is urging others to seek out services in their community that could benefit from donations, knowing first-hand how many valuable organizations exist,
“When I began searching, there were so many [services] that I was not aware of,” she remarked.
“If people take a look, maybe they will find a cause they are passionate about and either donate or start a fundraiser themselves.
“It is easy to see in our small community how single donations can make a big difference for those in need,” Labbe noted.