Tired of hearing about high-end events that were seemingly frivolous, Kim Hennes gathered a few friends and jumped head first into planning one of her own. In The Name of Love is an annual fundraising gala that combines the best of semi-formal cocktail attire and delicious canapes with the worthy cause of ending modern slavery. Read Kim's interview below:
1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
Kim: I’m 36 and I have two little boys. They are 7 and 9 and we live in Medicine Hat, AB. We’re about 3 hours south of Calgary and about an hour from the US border. I work casually at our fire department here in our city doing payroll and administration and I also watch my nephew a few days a week. Other than that, I’m a mom!
2) What is "In the Name of Love” and how did it get started?
Kim: In the Name of Love is a gala that we decided to put on as a fundraiser. We wanted to have an event, and we just started thinking about the different ways that we could fundraise for IJM. It seems like there are all kinds of events for things that just don’t really matter, that people are willing to go to and spend a lot of money on. So we thought, "Well, let’s give them something awesome and worthwhile to spend their money on!”
[Phil Calvert, IJM Canada Director of Development in Alberta], has been so great to work with and get to know, he’s awesome. We started chatting about the concept and we threw around some ideas. It’s been a couple of years now, but I remember asking your team questions about logistics and we weren’t quite sure what it was going to look like.
We knew that it had to be something that people would attend for an awesome evening without even knowing what IJM was, because part of the goal was to educate people about [the organization].
We couldn’t motivate a whole bunch of people to come just because they wanted to support IJM, we had to make it interesting enough for people to want to get out and try something. It had to be different. I didn’t want it to be a "sit down” meal where you listen to someone talk all night. I personally hate those things, so instead it was more of an elevated cocktail party.
We approached – I think our first year was eight restaurants and a brewery – and we asked them if they would come and do tastings. Medicine Hat likes food and our group of friends likes food, so we thought it would be fun to come out for a night and try different things. We pair it with some drinks and have a really relaxed evening where people can actually come and visit and hang out with their spouse or the group that they brought.
We had some seating so that you could sit for the night and visit, try different foods, and listen to the live music. An IJM representative gave a short presentation about the work and then we had a silent auction, which constituted a big part of the fundraising. It was awesome.
3) What makes you passionate about issues of injustice? Why do you see justice as a cause that’s worth championing?
Kim: How can it not be? It’s just a no brainer for me. There isn’t anything specific that I had been through or had seen, I just feel like if there’s anything at all I can do, then I want to do it. Sometimes we think, "Oh well, it’s not going to make a difference” or, "the problem’s too big” or, "it’s far away” and just default to doing nothing. I refuse to believe that, so we thought we would just start and see how it went. It’s been so good and it’s fun to plan too. We had no idea what we were doing. None of us are event planners, so it’s not like we picked a strength of ours and said, "Yeah, we can totally pull this off.” It was more like, "Wow! we’re in way over our heads,” but God kept whispering, "No, you can! Think bigger, you can think bigger!”
We started going through personal journeys where we each realized that the kingdom of Heaven is behind you. If you focus on eternity and God’s economy then you’re not intimidated by the world. When God asks you to do something or partner with him, He’s going to come through. But there were many times that I said, "Okay God, you better show up, you better show up!”
4) How did you learn about IJM? Is there a particular type of casework that you’re affected by?
Kim: I had actually never heard an IJM representative speak, but the church I used to attend did a walk fundraiser every year, so I knew a little bit about it. A few friends from church would post the rescue stories [on social media]. I kept seeing these rescues and I wanted to be a part of that, even if it’s one life, one person that it changes. It’s hard to imagine the generations that trafficking affects. A single person's life being changed can change the course of history. I want to be a part of that. So I think the trafficking issue is the thing that gets me the most.
I don’t have little girls so at times people are surprised that I’m so passionate about it, but I have little boys and it’s just as important for me to teach them the value of women. I just want kids to be able to be kids and to have a good childhood.
5) What are some of the challenges that you have faced in putting on a gala event, and additionally as a mom and with that responsibility?
Kim: With the first event, the biggest challenge was pitching the idea to all of the restaurants and doing promotion. Nobody knew about IJM. Every single person we met with we not only had to pitch on what we wanted them to do for us, but also to tell them all about IJM and its work. We were so thankful for every opportunity we got, but it was difficult — I’m a pretty introverted person. However, it was totally worth it every time I did it.
6) What is one tip that you would give to someone who wanted to do something similar?
Kim: I would say just do it, just start. For me, I had to find a few people that were like-minded because I knew I couldn’t do this on my own. I just asked God for a few names and He gave me some. We actually weren’t even really close friends. I had known a couple of them from my past growing up and I contacted them to meet for coffee one day. From then on, we were inseparable, because when you’re moving towards a common goal your roots grow deep quickly.
I’ve had many people come to me and say, "I’m so passionate about this, I just don’t know where to begin.” Get some friends together and do anything, even if it’s small. I don’t think God wants our dollars and cents. I don’t think he needs any part of our money, He just wants our hearts. What He can do with a few people that are willing to say "yes” – even to really small things – is incredible. I would just encourage them to dive in. There are always excuses that disqualify you.
We are four busy moms. We have jobs and we have homes and there are ten kids between us – sometimes our meetings were in a park at a park bench. We’d have all our binders and laptops out and we worked with what we had. One of the moms in my group that helps me plan it is a single mom with three little girls, but she just knows it’s important and we love it since it’s so fun to plan together.
7) What has been your favourite moment from either of the dinners or from the planning?
Kim: I can’t really say there was any specific moment. I think the thing I’ve loved the most is everything that we have learned. We knew right off the bat that it was so much bigger than just planning an event. There was so much God wanted to do in our own lives and in our hearts. Like I said, it’s about saying ‘yes’ to Him. Having Him show us what that means, how He provides for us, and how He opens and closes doors. Sometimes He would steer us in a different direction that we never would have considered. I have loved just getting to know God more through it all.
8) Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Kim: By then, my kids will be preteen and teenagers, so I will be navigating that. Hopefully I’m not in a corner crying somewhere! As far as still working with IJM, I hope to still be doing fundraisers because it’s important to me. I hope that in five years we make great strides in our own community, and beyond that too. I can’t wait to see what it looks like in five years’ time.
9) What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Kim: Well, my nine-year-old because he’s up really early! [Laughs] I have a really good family, but coffee probably gets me out of bed if I’m being totally honest.
10) Who would be the best person to be stuck in an elevator with?
Kim: For sure my husband, that would be awesome. I would probably bring an agenda, and have all these things to discuss with him when there’s no one around. Uninterrupted time would be like a holiday. I would probably tell others, "don’t rescue us, we’re totally fine!”
This article is part of a series featuring the amazing individuals who offer their time and talents to fundraise for us.
Inspired? Get started with your fundraiser at IJM.ca/fundraise.