Keri Looijen is marking an important anniversary. It’s been two years since the mother-of-two left an abusive relationship for the safety of a local shelter.
“It was at the level where it was getting physical,” Looijen recalled. “It was getting a lot scarier and there was a lot more happening.
“We ended up having to relocate at a moment’s notice for our safety.”
To celebrate, she’s giving back.
Looijen has co-founded Rides for Relief, a car show supporting women’s centres.
After teaming up with the YWCA in 2018, Rides for Relief hopes to raise $10,000 for the stalled Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources) women’s shelter.
The shelter was set to open this spring but has been in a holding pattern because additional necessary renovations are needed.
“Calgary, when I had called in, had a two- to three-month wait list to get into the shelter,” Looijen said.
“Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. is trying to make it so women and children can stay local to the supports they have currently instead of being uprooted and plunked into the city where they know nobody.”
“Knowing what victims go through and families go through… It’s alarming,” Rides for Relief co-founder Tracy Loeppky said.
“If they’re able to get open and running it would be an absolute god sent for these women.”
The pair believe the shelter is needed more than ever.
WATCH: Domestic violence an epidemic in Calgary, victim advocates say
Six of the 12 homicides committed in Calgary so far in 2019 were domestic related, according to police.
Vigils have been held across the city for the mothers, daughters and sisters who became victims.
Looijen considers herself one of the lucky ones.
She had local family support, she’s going back to school and her sons are adjusting well. She just hopes others will have the same chance.
Rides for Relief takes place on August 17 at Cam Clark Ford in Airdrie.