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TARA BRADBURY Turning Words Into Action

Posted: February 21, 2012

Every day around the world journalists are called upon to report the facts - condensed into minutes, perhaps peppered with soundbites and then move on to the next bit of news as it breaks. Others, if they're lucky, are given the opportunity to 'work' a feature – going in depth with a series of longer reports - rounding out a piece, but bottom line - their job is simply to tell the story.

Tara Bradbury Takes up the charge WARM HEARTS profileVery rare is the occasion and truly special is the reporter who refuses to leave a situation before making it better. St.John's NL native Tara Bradbury is one such journalist.

So moved after her profile of the Iris Kirby House in St.John’s, NLTara took up the charge to help the women and children who used the shelter through a campaign called Warm Hearts that now includes a star studded charity concert this Friday, February 24th at Arts & Culture Centre.

So wonderful her efforts - we had to get the full scoop from Tara herself, so what follows is our Q & A, as they say, with The Telegram’s Arts, Entertainment & Lifestyles reporter - Tara Bradbury

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SABS: Well Ms. B there's no doubt this is one worthwhile cause...tell us how you become involved?

Tara Bradbury: Back in December I wrote a three-part series for The Telegram on domestic violence in Newfoundland and Labrador, and as part of the research, I visited Iris Kirby House. The facility is really very lovely and welcoming but it really hurt my heart to see the women and small children who were forced to stay there, because their own homes weren't safe for them anymore. When I thought of shelters like Iris Kirby House, I hadn't necessarily considered there would be ladies my grandmother's age staying there, but there are — and more than a few of them. It breaks my heart to think of how much they may have endured over the years, or what the little children might have seen and experienced.

Anyway, I approached The Telegram editors with the idea of perhaps doing a pyjama drive for Iris Kirby House.  February WARM HEARTS donationsis the shelter's busiest month — it's said to be the worst month for mental illness, and if there are issues of addiction in a home, they often get worse in the middle of winter, which can lead to a more volatile family situation. Families often manage to pull it together for the holidays but break down around this time of year. I figured a new pair of cozy pyjamas might offer at least a small comfort to women and little ones who have to leave their homes and stay in a strange bed. The Telegram supported my idea without hesitation, and based on the needs of the shelter, we expanded our drive to include other items of winter clothing, blankets and personal care products.

Actress Lynda Boyd for Iris Kirby HouseSABS: No one can argue the incredible community that exists in NL but how thrilled were you by the outpouring of talent that has signed up to support the cause?

Tara Bradbury: It has been amazing, it really has. We asked Lynda Boyd to be the official Warm Hearts patron, and she emailed us back the same day, saying she'd be honoured.

Her participation has been incredible - from hosting a reception for the residents of Iris Kirby House with her dog, Milo, to personally donating pyjamas to the campaign, she’s been doing so much for Warm Hearts and is really, truly genuine about her interest in it. Lynda Boyd at Iris Kirby House with Exec. Director Gail Tobin photo credit-Tara BradburyShe's got great ideas and she's been really touched by the campaign and the stories she's been hearing.  She’s the perfect patron, for sure.

As for the show, the day we announced our collection drive in the paper, I started getting texts and emails from musicians and actors in the community, wondering if there was going to be a benefit show and if so, could they help. The idea for the concert was definitely theirs. It's taken a lot to get it all together, and we were unfortunately not able to work around everyone's schedule because of the timing of the campaign and some of the artists' touring gigs. There are quite a few people, like the guys of Shanneyganock and Andrew James O'Brien and Mark Critch who were on board right from the beginning, but we couldn't make a live performance happen. But they're going to make an appearance at the show anyway, via video.

Clockwise - Chris Kirby, Kim Wempe, Repartee, Mary Barry, The Novacks & Jerry Stamp

SABS: What can people expect from the big event on February 24th?

Tara Bradbury: The lineup for the event is fantastic: we have The Novaks, John Sheehan, Chris Kirby and the Marquee, Repartee, Mary Barry, Jerry Stamp, Ian Foster, Kim Wempe, the Long Distance Runners, The Neighbourhood Strays belly dance troupe, and Lynda’s going to sing a few songs with The Dukes of Doyle, a band made up of crewmembers from REPUBLIC OF DOYLE.

Top to Bottom - Mark Critch, Jeanne Beker & Shaun MajumderThere’s going to be a special kind of finale with most of the musical acts, with Evry7th joining in, too. There’ll be video messages and skits by Mark Critch and Shaun Majumder, Rick Mercer, Jeanne Beker and more.

The female performers are all really great examples of strong, confident, successful women, and the majority of performers are men, though we didn’t set out to make the ratio happen like that.  I think that sends a really important message to the public, particularly since the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary statistics show that the large majority of abusers are men and the majority of victims are women. We’re letting the public know that the fight against domestic violence is one that’s important to both sexes, and there are caring men, just as there are caring women, who won’t tolerate it in their community. I know there will be some residents and past residents of Iris Kirby House in the audience, and I want them to see and hear for themselves how much their community cares for them. I really think it can help with their healing process.

There’s going to be comedy, dance, rock ‘n’ roll, singer/songwriters, belly dancers, a grand piano, flamenco guitar, and Mark Critch in a ladies’ housecoat. Tell me where in St. John’s you’ll find better entertainment than that on a Friday night!

SABS: You're hope for Iris Kirby House, as well as the need will go beyond this event - how can people continue to help the cause?

Iris Kirby HouseTara Bradbury: We’ll be continuing to collect donations to the Warm Hearts campaign until the end of the month, and people can drop their items (new only, please) off at The Telegram offices, upstairs in the Village Mall in St. John’s.

Monetary donations can be made – and not just while the campaign is ongoing, but any time – directly to Iris Kirby House by calling 722-8272.

While you're here check out Tara Bradbury's Cool People Profile and follow her on twitter @tara_bradbury

For more info on Friday's Stars for Warm Hearts Event click here

For information on Iris Kirby House visit their site here

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