She may now call Nashville home, but Tenille Townes says coming back to Grande Prairie for the Big Hearts for Big Kids fundraiser for Sunrise House Youth Emergency Shelter remains her favourite event of the year.
Townes, who started the event at the age of 15 in 2010, says she wanted to help out the emergency shelter any way she could and hoped the funds raised would ensure those who needed care would continue to get it. She says even with the success it sees today, the pressing need for help was made abundantly clear as they were preparing for the inaugural event.
“The director of the shelter came to me in tears that they had to close the doors to Sunrise House that morning due to lack of funding. That night we raised $30,000. I had a moment where I realized the true power of music and people coming together,” she explains.
“Grande Prairie is an extraordinary community and it has changed my life watching them show up year after year and wrap their arms around Sunrise House. I’m so excited we get to do it again.”
Townes heard about the expansion of the shelter and she’s so glad more youth will get the services they need.
“It’s really an honour to think that this is really happening in the near future. I feel like we’ve been dreaming about this new building for Sunrise House for several years. Big Hearts for Big Kids’ intention was always to help them keep their doors open. It makes me so excited to know that they will double their capacity. It’s kind of overwhelming to think about,” she says.
Townes sympathizes with any adolescents that are going through a difficult time in their lives and encourages them to keep pushing forward.
“I would just say that you are not alone. There are so many people who think of you and are loving you even if they don’t know you. Witnessing people come together for this event I can honestly say that there is so much love in our community for whoever is needing it. If that’s you, your courage and bravery inspire me. Please keep being you and know that support is out there.”
Townes adds she’s bringing her band and three of her closest friends, Jade Eagleson, Steven Lee Olsen, and Alex Hall. The sold out event happens on April 2nd at the TARA Centre in Evergreen Park.