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Our Community: Boy's shaved locks to go to kids with cancer

Twelve-year-old Thomas Joe had his first haircut in 30 months this past week, with his 24-inch locks to be donated and made into wigs for children with cancer. Thomas, who is in Grade 6 at St.

Twelve-year-old Thomas Joe had his first haircut in 30 months this past week, with his 24-inch locks to be donated and made into wigs for children with cancer.

Thomas, who is in Grade 6 at St. Patrick’s Elementary school, purposely held off on cutting his hair since October 2019.

He had his hair cut at a ceremony at the school on Wednesday.

Thomas also started a personal appeal page on the B.C. Cancer Foundation site. By Wednesday, donations had exceeded his $10,000 fundraising goal.

“All four of my grandparents were lost to cancer and a student in my school died of cancer at the age of six,” says ­Thomas’s appeal page. “I know that my efforts and the amount of money I raise won’t cure cancer. But I hope that others will see what I’m doing and do the same.

“Hopefully, together, we can make a difference so that the ­children ­generations after mine won’t lose loved ones the same way I have.”

Thomas is the son of real estate agent Tony Joe and Susan Froher, who are “absolutely proud” of their son’s initiative, which, they said, he came up with on his own.

“After he told us of his intention, all I suggested was that he think larger than his initial $800 goal,” Tony Joe said.

“I think he is actually looking forward to being bald. I told him that people are going to ask him: ‘What’s this all about?’ and that will invite a conversation about why he is doing it and the work of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.”

Thomas got his head shaved by Burt Hill, owner of Burt’s Barbershop in Oak Bay.

The hair will be donated to Wigs for Kids B.C., a program that provides free custom-fitted human-hair wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment or other illnesses. Each wig costs roughly $600 to $700 to make. The grassroots program accepts hair that is at least 10 inches long and sent within three months of its cut date. Hair should not be dyed, permed or chemically treated. It should be tied at the top and not braided.

Ground broken on shelter for women

The Anawim Companions Society has officially broken ground on a new Women’s House in Victoria.

The house will feature seven private rooms with partial bathrooms, a communal kitchen and communal living spaces.

“There are shelter spaces in Victoria for women, but maybe not a home like ours that also provides individualized one-on-one support, meeting the person where they are at,” said Dan Greco, president of Anawim Companions Society.

“We strongly believe that replicating a family atmosphere, while fostering connection, can best help the person regain their confidence to live their best life.”

The project was kick-started by the donation of a property by a benefactor. Aryze Development helped the society navigate the rezoning and permit process.

The Women’s House follows on the success of the Men’s House, which opened in 1991.

Anawim also received additional support from the City of Victoria’s Housing Reserve Fund, the Carole and Clint Forster Foundation at the Victoria Foundation, the Sisters of St. Ann, construction suppliers, churches and countless other donors.

Construction is expected to take between nine and 12 months.

Volunteers sought for B.C.’s annual bat count

Citizen-science volunteers are needed to take part in the B.C. Annual Bat Count in June.

The program, hosted by the B.C. Community Bat Program, encourages residents to count bats at local roost sites.

B.C. bats, including the little brown myotis, are returning to their summer roost sites in buildings and bat boxes. All bats are an essential part of the ecosystem, consuming many insect pests each night.

“The counts are a wonderful way for people to get outside, learn about bats and be involved in collecting important scientific information,” said Danielle Buckle, co-ordinator of the South Island Community Bat Program.

Volunteers wait outside a known roost site — such as a bat box, barn or attic — and count bats as they fly out at twilight. A guano sample can also be sent in to identify the species.

The data helps biologists understand bat distribution and monitor for the effects of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is fatal for bats but not for other animals or humans.

The B.C. Community Bat Program is funded by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., the Habitat Stewardship Program, with support from the B.C. Conservation Foundation and the province of B.C.

To volunteer, go to bcbats.ca/get-involved/counting-bats.

Art show for dogs raises cash for SPCA

Artist Tanya Bub is hosting Art for Dogs, an exhibit that is equal parts arts, entertainment and fundraiser for the B.C. SPCA, until May 29 at the Gage Gallery.

The idea for the show, which features dog sculptures made out of driftwood, came from seeing dogs react to her canine-themed work.

“They know it’s not real and yet some dogs have a very strong reaction to the art,” she said.

The delightful fact that some dogs like looking at art, just like people do, made her want to do something for dogs.

The show features an outdoor display where people are encouraged to take and share photos of their dogs with the art pieces.

Indoors, there is a Dog Park display of 30 or so miniature sculptures depicting people and dogs at play, an Air Dog series with sculptures of dogs in action, life-sized driftwood portraits of the SPCA’s hard-to-place dogs, collage pet portraits and sculptures of wildlife.

Bub will donate 25 per cent of the show’s proceeds to the B.C. SPCA.

Admission is free. The exhibition runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday until May 29 at the Gage Gallery, 19 Bastion Sq.

Pickeball players help Ukraine war refugees

Anna Edgar and Pete Korvin of the Nanaimo Pickleball Club are hosting a charity tournament, with all proceeds to be sent to the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, to support its work in Ukraine.

The mixed-doubles tournament will be held on June 4 (June 5 in the event of rain) at the Pacific Shores Resort in Nanoose Bay. Medals will be awarded to top three teams in each level.

Registration is $90 per team (plus a processing fee of about $4). The tournament runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Shores is at 1600 Stroulger Rd., Nanoose Bay.

For more information or to register, go to nanaimopickleball.org.

parrais@timescolonist.com