2015 East Gwillimbury
“Giving back needs to be a win-win for everybody.”
When Sharon Bates was twelve years of age, she participated in the Great Canadian Ride for Cancer on horseback through the Vivian forest along with her father. “My family have always given back,” she said. “My parents were always volunteering for various things and giving back in their own way. My father donates blood and has sat on various volunteer boards and committees over the years.” As a child, Sharon asked her Grandmother about the duct tape on her pots, wanting to know why she did not buy new pots. Her grandmother’s reply was, “Someone in Zambia isn’t eating tonight.” Sharon’s grandparents supported missionaries in Zambia for many years and this touched Sharon deeply.
At nineteen years of age, Sharon bought Tangles Salon. She worked on her own at first, but now there are three stylists and one esthetician. Sharon saw her salon as a tool for giving back. She saw her connections with women through the salon, and business through the Chamber of Commerce, as an opportunity to make a difference in her community. She settled on the Southlake Regional Health’s Cancer Centre as the cause she wanted to support. To Sharon, the idea of having a treatment facility close to home was an important need in the community. One of Southlake’s slogans is, “Help transform a life close to home.” With this in mind, Sharon started her fund-raising efforts with the idea of donating whatever she raised towards construction costs. Sharon had no idea that years later her own mother would need the facilities and treatment available at the Stronach Regional Cancer Centre.
Sharon initially started the East Gwillembury Women’s Show with 36 vendors. With the help of family and volunteers she stuffed 300 gift bags, and just before the doors closed at the end of the day she gave out the last gift bag. $6,000 was raised that year. The show became a bi-annual event and the second time around Sharon determined to buy a vital signs monitor. Every year she was determined to raise more, and the next show’s proceeds went to fund radiation monitors. Sharon believes that fundraisers should be a win-win for everybody; the hospital benefits from the funds, the community benefits because their awareness of the facilities, and services are better understood. The vendors benefit because they make one-on-one contact with the community. In addition, the community supports a worthy cause while being educated as to what the businesses and services are in their own back yard.
Sharon’s most memorable moment of giving back was the unveiling of the plaque of thanks next to the chair where her mother received her chemotherapy treatments at the Cancer Centre. Her mother, who is now in remission, was there to share the wonderful moment with her. Sharon committed to raise $50,000 for the Cancer Centre, and in April 2015, she surpassed that goal. With 52 vendors at the show and all 300 gift bags gone within the first hours of opening, the show was once again a resounding success. “Everyone’s responsibility is to do something for this planet, but for me, the women’s show seemed like a natural fit,” Sharon said. “It worked and it keeps growing.” Her portrait was taken at Southlake in front of the glass wall where donor’s names are acknowledged.
A new experience for Sharon and her Tangles Salon is partnering with last year’s recipient, Maria Rocca of Artists Salon to participate in the “Style for a Cause”. Sharon has seen the benefits of giving back first hand. She has seen the difference her efforts have made in the lives of patients. Sharon is grateful for the help and support of her husband and family who support her and help her achieve her fund-raising goals. As for her future philanthropic contributions, Sharon is exploring her options, but wants a tangible goal towards which to strive. Sharon received the Queen's Jubilee Award in 2012 and she is the first East Gwillembury Portraits of Giving recipient.