2019 marks the 15th annual Victorian Tea, an annual fundraiser event geared toward raising funds and awareness for Sojourner House. The annual high tea brings hundreds of mothers, daughters, fathers and sons to come enjoy tea and pastries and enjoyable entertainment and programming, and most importantly to help contribute money towards Sojourner House and their mission of providing rehabilitation, treatment, and housing for mothers and their children. Given the impacts of the opioid crisis on Western Pennsylvania, the organization is more important than ever.
This year, our honorary co-chairs of the Victorian Tea bring a unique perspective because of first-hand experience working with Sojourner House. Harris Ferris has served as the executive director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre since 2006. When Harris accepted the position and moved to Pittsburgh along with his wife Janet Ferris, she was looking for an opportunity to make a difference.
“I had never worked for a non-profit before,” Janet reflected, “but I had heard about Sojourner House and the things they were doing in the community, and I saw that they had an opening, so I reached out to them.”
Janet joined the Sojourner House team in an administrative capacity, where she served for several years. And working in this position not familiarized her with the unique mission of Sojourner House and its importance to the community, as the only rehabilitation facility in the region that allows mothers to bring their children to live with them, but it gave her firsthand experience seeing how much the organization meant to people in the community.
“In my position, I was the one who opened letters containing donations,” she said. “These donations were coming in from all types of people, not just wealthy donors. People from all walks of life were donating whatever they could to Sojourner House because they had experience with the difference that it made in their lives or the lives of family members and friends and people in their lives.”
Although Janet is no longer a part of the team at Sojourner House, the difference the organization is making is still important to her. As the honorary chairs for this year’s event Janet and Harris are now in the position of being able to help further spread the word about Sojourner House and its mission.
“We are honored to have been chosen as the honorary chairs for this year’s event,” Janet said. “Harris and I are both excited to come be a part of the event and to help more people understand what a great and important organization Sojourner House is for members of the community.
Victorian Tea is coming up quickly, so make sure not to miss the chance to buy an individual ticket or to sponsor a table. Even if you cannot attend the event, you can still donate to Sojourner House and the important cause as they help women and their families along the path to recovery.