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#LipoffKW aspires to help end homelessness in Waterloo Region

'Look into the studies that have been done and see that chronic homelessness is something that we absolutely can end in Waterloo Region. We have the power to do this as a community,' Petricevic says
LipOffKW 2019
From left to right: Tiffany Iden, Jen Wilson, Jolene Knott, and Rebecca Petricevic. Supplied photo

Tiffany Iden, Jen Wilson, Rebecca Petricevic and Jolene Knott met while attending a philanthropy leadership program. “There’s a like-mindedness that is part of what drew us together. We all see the greatness in our community and want to be part of that,” says Wilson.

If you haven’t witnessed a lip-sync battle, you’re missing out.

“Jimmy Fallon was doing lip-sync battles on The Tonight Show, and I thought they were amazing, and that we definitely needed to start organizing some in our own community. That led to the idea of it being a fundraiser, where people come out for a great night of entertainment for a great cause,” says Petricevic.

When asked about the name, LipOffKW, Petricevic says, “we wanted something that was a little bit cheeky, but something that also referenced the lip-sync battles that inspired us.”

Each year, they choose a different benefiting cause, including YWCA and the St. Mary’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre. Proceeds from this year’s event will go to Homelessness Housing Umbrella Group (HHUG) and the ALLIN2020 campaign.

Petricevic says she remembers hearing John Neufeld speak at an EngageKW event, “he said something along the lines of, seeing a fellow human being feel isolated, alienated, and alone when we have so much as a society is just unacceptable.” She says Iden reached out to HHUG to learn more about their “ambitious yet achievable goal” of creating affordable housing for the homeless and it just made sense to them.

“It doesn’t make sense to sit around and wait for things to change or improve, when we have the ability to do something ourselves,” says Wilson.

They agreed to a one-time event. “As one-time became annual, and small-scale became a pretty sizeable event, we’re getting ready for year four,” says Iden.

The excitement of performers, volunteers and support from local businesses reassured them that they had much more than a one hit wonder on their hands. They credit community involvement for their success, “from day one we had Chief Bryan Larkin, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Mike Farwell of 570 NEWS, Gayle O’Brien from Dave Rocks, and so many others who got excited and got involved,” Wilson says.

In order to have the biggest impact, they do most of the work themselves. “Our operations are as lean as possible and our costs an absolute minimum, through our strategic sponsorship and donation partnerships,” says Knott. She says she’s most proud of the idea that four women run this event - on top of work, school, and family commitments, “and have fun doing it.”

To date, they have raised almost $10,000 for local charities. This year, they are hoping to double that. “Look into the studies that have been done and see that chronic homelessness is something that we absolutely can end in Waterloo Region. We have the power to do this as a community,” Petricevic says.

According to Iden, each year, when all is said and done, they ask themselves if they want to do it again. “It’s important to all of us that this event is something we’re all excited about and committed to.”

The answer continues to be yes.

“What we’re looking for now are some amazing audience members, ready to cheer, clap, sing, dance, or just sit back and enjoy the show. Having an audience that is supportive, excited, and ready to rock makes a big difference,” says Knott.

The event is November 7, special guests include: MC Gayle O’Brien of Dave Rocks and commentators Angie Hill of KFUN, Mike Farwell of 570 NEWS, and Rosie Del Campo of CTV News. Find out more here.

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