The 26th Annual Strawberry Festival at Shadyside Presbyterian Church took place in early June and was a sweet and tasty way to spend a beautiful early summer evening. The proceeds from this event provide valuable support of day-to-day essentials for the women in the treatment program.
Sojourner House has been adopted as the beneficiary of this annual summer celebration for many years. Volunteer and creator of the festival, Ann Brooks first experienced strawberry socials in England, as a teaching and exchange student. She knew that other local churches had festivals and thought it would be a perfect way for the Shadyside Presbyterian Church community to have some fellowship, enjoy their beautiful lawn and give back to the community.
The first year, Ann made some games out of cardboard boxes – which the wind quickly blew over! – and raised $68. When she was asked to spearhead the festival for a second year, her mother and brother helped her design and make real games – a.k.a. sturdier and more wind-resistant! They tried different things over the years, including pony rides, but certain things remain constant, including a bake sale and, of course, strawberries.
When Ann started volunteering with Sojourner House in 2015, they seemed like a perfect fit for not only the proceeds from the festival but also a great event for the women and kids from Sojourner House to enjoy.
Ann had helped Sojourner House when there were items that they needed, but she and her daughter discussed doing something more hands-on. They now host a BINGO game at Sojourner House on Sunday afternoons and the annual “Flip-Flop Day” where children and mothers can get some new summer footwear and enjoy crafts and cake.
While Ann is very proud of the Strawberry Festival and it’s a lasting legacy, she says she is so grateful that she found Sojourner House. “I get way more from them than they get from me.”