Vicki and Natalie Illes

New non-profit aims to help local women

Vicky and Natalie Illes founded Mittens for Kittens

A new non-profit society will help women in need and keep the memory of Jessica Illes alive.

Mittens for Kittens was created by her mom Vicky Illes and her sister Natalie and operates out of their Mission home.

Volunteers, all family and friends so far, put together care packages for women at transition houses in Mission and Abbotsford. Inside the bags are toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm), a set of pyjamas or track pants, shaver, facecloth, T-shirt, knitted slippers, mittens and little treats. There’s also a small note attached to each bag with kind and encouraging words.

“It’s something we can do as a family to help out women and help take care of them,” said Vicky. The women have fun putting the packages together and knowing they are making a difference. Even Jessica’s nine-year-old daughter helps deliver the care packages.

The first packages were dropped off in Mission in August, and this month Mittens for Kittens is expanding to include the transition house in Abbotsford for women. Eventually, they would like to be able to reach out to women in Maple Ridge, and Chilliwack too.

“There was a time when my daughter would go to a transition home and this is something I would give her,” said Vicky.

Jessica’s life was cut short at the age of 23. She had been involved with the wrong crowd and was associated with gangs and drugs. She was also in an abusive relationship, says her family, and she was constantly struggling to find the straight road. In August 2009, she was murdered in her Abbotsford home. Nobody has been charged in connection with her death and the case is still under investigation.

She wasn’t always struggling and Vicky remembers a happy, bright, young girl who excelled in preschool and loved to laugh. Everything changed when she was hit by a vehicle as she crossed the street when she was four years old. In addition to broken bones, bumps and bruises, she also suffered a head injury.

It was a miracle she survived, but was never the same. Jessica endured school with tutors and educational consultants, and she was kept busy with extracurricular activities, like Brownies, swimming, and horseback riding.

Life was not easy, and Vicky and Natalie want to do their part and help others get out of abusive relationships.

“You don’t have to stick around,” said Natalie.

Vicky hopes the care packages will make the recipients more comfortable, allowing them to make better decisions in their lives.

To learn more about Mittens for Kittens, and to donate, visit mittensforkittenssociety.com.

Just Posted

Downtown Mission: Ready to revitalize

With the bidding process underway, construction could start by mid-March

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

UPDATE: Man in mid-20s killed in targeted shooting in Abbotsford

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

‘Compassion club’ operator loses bid to have pot-trafficking charges thrown out

Bob Woolsey of Mission argues that laws were not valid at the time of alleged offences

Location eyed for possible collector well

New estimate puts price tag of new water source at $81 million

VIDEO: AND THE WINNERS ARE …

Mission Chamber announces Business Excellence Awards winners

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Giants fall in six-round shootout

Visiting Victoria squad beats Vancouver 4-3 at Langley Events Centre

Most Read