A local hockey writer is doing his part to help those in need by encouraging Winnipeggers to get involved with an initiative that has exploded across North America in recent years.
Murat Ates, who covers the Winnipeg Jets for The Athletic, told 680 CJOB he got involved in a campaign to send cards to people in domestic abuse shelters when he heard the call from its organizer, Meg Crane, a number of years ago.
“This initiative sends Valentines, and now ‘Palentines,’ to people who stay at, who use the resources of, who work in, who volunteer in domestic abuse shelters,” Ates said.
“They make over 2,000 cards every single year… it’s a huge initiative, and I’ve just been doing the best that I can to help (Crane) and raise awareness for the event that she’s running.”
The event, now known as Palentines for Broken Hearts, is intended to let people living in domestic abuse shelters know someone’s thinking of them at a tough time of year.
“Even when the word ‘Valentine’ was used on these cards, the idea was that these were going to be super light, friendly, positive messages that have nothing to do with love or the sort of things that might remind somebody of why they’re there or be triggering, perhaps,” Ates said.
“This is more 100 per cent to let folks know they’re being thought of, or a little way to brighten their day.”
In 2019, Ates hosted an event for Winnipeg men to come and try their hands at crafting for the initiative. The event was an unexpected success, and he’s now calling for all Winnipeggers to get involved.
“I initially started an event that I would host where guys from Winnipeg could come out. My idea was that I’m terrible at crafting and I wanted a safe space for other people who were terrible at crafting,” Ates said.
“What it turned into was a large group of guys, in some cases with their own experiences with domestic abuse… and sometimes, we did have a lot of father-son duos where dad just wanted to show their kid there was a nice thing to do around this time.”
Ates isn’t hosting an independent men’s event in 2020. Instead, he’s encouraging anyone who wants to help to make their own cards at home to contact him via social media, and he’ll pick up the cards and put them in the mail.
While he’s been one of the public faces of the project — in part due to his platform as a hockey analyst — Ates insists he’s just another volunteer and that all credit belongs with the initiative’s creator, Crane.
“I think she’s done such a good job of harnessing her communities and volunteers,” Ates said. “She’s put so much of herself into this… it’s a great initiative and it comes from her heart first and foremost.”