As with almost every aspect of our lives these days, Media Experts’ ninth edition of Joey Elias and the Comedy All-Stars: An Evening of Hilarity for the Benefit of On Our Own (O3) will be a little different than in years past.

The added responsibility of respecting social distancing measures has made staging the fundraiser at Club Soda impossible. But, the show must go on – because more than ever before, the women and children at O3 need our help.

This year the benefit show moves to The Royalmount Drive-In Event Theatre on Wednesday, August 26. It will continue a tradition of combining good deeds with big laughs while respecting social distancing measures, in a COVID-safe environment.

Elias has rallied a roster of Montreal comedy all-stars, including host Lawrence Corber and local comedians Amanda McQueen, Harrison Weinreb, and Rodney Ramsey, to deliver a full program of hilarity for this truly great cause.

For those unfamiliar, On Our Own (O3) is a Montreal-based charitable organization dedicated to helping young, single mothers and their children achieve a better quality of life through affordable transitional housing, educational programs, and critical support services.

In the face of COVID-19, the majority of O3’s resident moms lost their jobs and have been single parenting for very young children, in a small apartment, all alone, 24/7. Those who were attending post- secondary education have struggled to complete courses with no respite from providing constant childcare. Moreover, the educational programs and daycare that O3 offers resident moms so they can concentrate on furthering their education, are unavailable due to social distancing measures and short staffing. Their community of support – the element that makes O3 so impactful – has been replaced with isolation.

“For our moms, the new reality they face is a disparaging level of financial and food insecurity that grows by the day, putting both their future and those of their children in jeopardy,” explains Ushana Houston, Director of On Our Own. “To see the progress these women have made be threatened by societal fallout from the pandemic is heartbreaking. This is where your donations will, quite literally, change lives.”

Building on the success of past events, which raised $108,000 last year and $612,000 to date, 100 percent of the gifts from this years’ event will go directly O3, with overhead for the event covered by a benefactor. - an act that will allow O3 to provide residents with adequate food security so their families will not live meal to meal; increase qualified daycare staffing to provide moms with respite while respecting newly mandated childcare social distancing norms of 2-3 children per group; and develop new social and educational programming that address the unique needs of this very vulnerable population. This includes building a more robust digital literacy program and structured Pre-K educational programs that support the transition to online learning for both parents and their children.

“True, this pandemic has impacted us all. But it is not the great equalizer it is being heralded as,” says Mark Sherman, Founder and CEO of Media Experts. “The women and their young children at O3 represent a subset of our most vulnerable community – ones that we are asking you to join us in supporting them in any way you can.”

Participants can purchase their tickets for $40 at Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/joey-elias-and-the-comedy-all-stars-a-benefit-show-for-on-our-own-tickets-112885760348) . A total of $25 is tax deductible. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the laughs start at 7 p.m.

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