It’s been 10 years since the women who manage the Chez Doris ‘Drop-in’ center first held their annual ‘Tea for Doris’ tea party.

“Fifty people showed up,” said Marina Boulos – Winton, “...and over half of them bought their tickets at the door.”

A decade later, the ‘Tea for Doris’ tea party has become one of the city’s noted social events as over 300 women paid $85 for their afternoon at the Ritz over a cup of hot tea.

“Who knows,” said Montreal’s Joanne Mastro. “The money might come straight from the heart just as much as it might have come straight from the heartbreak. But these women are putting out good money for their sisters, and if they can have fun doing it, why not?”

And that’s exactly what happened during an afternoon that was filled with friends and music over hot tea and sandwiches. The silent auction, as ever, was the big attraction with the kind of once in a lifetime purchase that can transform a silk scarf into a precious family memento. There were a lot of bids for a Terry Tomalty painting after which the bidding began to soar for opera tickets, gift cards, jewelry and a Michael Kors purse.

By the end of the afternoon, the tea party raised over $60 000 for the downtown women’s shelter that used to be nothing more than a second-storey flat in Little Burgundy where women could find “...a safe place.” Forty-two years later, the Chez Doris shelter still offers women a safe place along with food, some daytime shelter, and a wide range of services. According to Boulos – Winton, the tea-time donations will probably be used to maintain the shelter’s general operations as well as to furnish its new 22-bed emergency over-night shelter.

Boulos understands how the numbers can do a lot to define what you’re doing for some of the most vulnerable people in the city. As of last year, almost 27 000 women visited the shelter. While the numbers have remained fairly steady over the years, Boulos also notes that her clients are getting older while there were fewer first-time visits (347) to the shelter than there were (551) during the previous year.

As over 300 friends and supporters began to take their place in the hotel ballroom, Élise Paradis and Jessica Korotkin began to use their period instruments to play the baroque music that served as a perfect score for the afternoon’s tea party.

“What can I say?” said Boulos with a smile. “We’re all having tea at the Ritz!”

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