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Building Jessie’s House: A Safe Haven

The Alberta Council of Women Shelters states that more than 20,000 women, seniors, and children are turned away from shelters each year due to lack of capacity. In 2009, Jessica Martel (Jessie) was one of them.
Jessies House - Front

On April 2009, Jessie was brutally murdered in front of her children by her common law husband. Despite having a plan to leave her abusive partner, shelters in the region were at capacity and she didn’t have a safe place to go. Had more resources been available, Jessie would still be alive.

Since that day Jessie’s mother, Lynne Rosychuk, has worked tirelessly as the President and Co-Founder of the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF) to raise funds and open Jessie’s House, which will be the first new emergency shelter in Alberta in 22 years – and will be one of only three that supports victims of any age, gender, and gender identity. Thanks to the generosity of donors, including a land donation from the Town of Morinville, Jessie’s House is expected to open this spring.

However, despite the fact that the equivalent of an entire town’s worth of people are turned away from shelters each year, the road to Jessie’s House faces financial challenges. Donations are urgently needed to keep the project moving forward in a timely manner.

“Our greatest challenge is funding,” says Rosychuk. “It’s a difficult time with government cutbacks and the economy.  People are struggling financially. But it’s times like this that we see an increase in domestic violence. The more pressures at home, the more dangerous the situation gets.”

While construction on Jessie’s House takes place, the JMMF continues to advocate for the changes needed at every level (political, economic, mental health care, safe spaces, etc.) to help people escape domestic violence.

JMMF_Image_Spotlight1Construction of Jesie's House in Morinville AB

“Our sole purpose of creating the JMMF was to build a safe haven,” explains Rosychuk, “But it soon became apparent that we needed to do more while we continued to raise money for Jessie’s House. As a result, we started our outreach program. We didn’t have enough money to pay for an outreach worker, so I volunteered to do it.  I will never forget the families I assisted. We are still in contact today and it warms my heart to know that they are living better lives.” To reach outreach, call 587-879-6125.

Teena Hughson, JMMF’s Community Engagement Coordinator, points out, “A Canadian woman is killed every 2.5 days in Canada, and the vast majority are killed by those known to them.”

Hughson, along with the JMMF team, participated in countless hours of tours and consultations with the RCMP, experts on safety and security, shelter experts, municipal planners, interior designers, real estate lawyers, and other specialties to ensure Jessie’s House would meet the needs of it’s inhabitants.

WOW2019-LYNNELynne Rosychuk

She is also at the forefront of the fundraising efforts. “On April 25, we are hosting our signature fundraiser, the 8th annual Break Free Gala. It will be at CFB Edmonton and Danny Hooper will be the MC and auctioneer. Corporations and individuals can sponsor the Gala and provide auction items. On June 21, we are hosting our 8th annual Memorial Run in Morinville. On November 7, we are hosting our 2nd annual Country Cabaret at CFB Edmonton.”

Patrons don’t have to wait for an event to support the JMMF. Financial donations can be made online ( or through the mail. A gift registry of items needed for Jessie’s House is on the JMMF website. Rooms in Jessie’s House can be sponsored through Donate a Car Canada accepts vehicle donations for the JMMF. Self-directed fundraisers such as golf tournaments, barbeques, and dance-a-thons are also welcomed.

“I thank our donors from the bottom of my heart,” concludes Rosychuk. Their generosity is truly going to save lives.”

Save a life today by donating and learning more about this important cause at

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