Laughing for relief

Daily Herald File Photo. Local comedian Kelly Taylor is pictured.

A local group supporting first responders, serving military members and veterans with Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) is holding a comedy night to say thank you to those who work to keep us safe.

OSI-CAN Prince Albert, a joint project of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Royal Canadian Legion, is holding an appreciation comedy steak supper evening with Kelly Taylor on March 29 at the Wildlife Federation building.

Operational Stress Injury is often used as a non-medical term synonymous with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but specific to traumatic events experienced in the line of duty, or while performing work-related tasks. The term is becoming more widely adopted, as it removes the stigma of disorder from being applied to an individual, the OSI-CAN website says.

The project offers programs such as support groups in Regina, North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Estevan, Saskatoon and P.A. It serves serving members of the armed forces, veterans, police officers, paramedics, fire service members, 911 operators, hospital trauma personnel and corrections officers.

All proceeds from the event will go to OSI-CAN to help pay for programming.

Event organizer Michelle McKeaveney explained why the group wanted to put on this event.

“In light of the abduction we had this summer, and all of the highway deaths, I feel that summer got busy and we hadn’t done a great job thanking these people involved in all of these things,” she said.

“We as a community can still acknowledge and thank them.”

McKeaveney wanted to find a way to put an event together where people could just relax, and not have to deal with speeches or politics. She reached out to local comedian Kelly Taylor, who agreed to perform at a discount for the cause.

Then, McKeaveney approached the Prince Albert Firefighters’ Association charity, and they gave a $500 donation to help cover the cost of the performance.

While the event is to thank and recognize veterans, military members and first responders, everyone is welcome.

“I just hope the members come out and realize this is a night to informally laugh and be honoured,” she said.

She’s also planning to have prize draws and refreshment tickets for first responders, military members and veterans.

The best way someone can support the cause is by purchasing a ticket for themselves or someone else.

“I’m looking for people to buy a ticket and attend, and I‘m also looking for people to sponsor a veteran or first responder whose budget might be a little tight right now and might want to attend,” McKeaveney said.

“I have a list of people who would like to go but can’t afford it at this time.”

The money raised will go a long way to support programming for those who use OSI-CAN on a regular basis.

“In the last few months we’ve seen a big surge with what we already have going on,” McKeaveney said.

“We’ve developed spousal groups in all of the big cities, and we’re trying to expand, because the phones don’t stop ringing.

“The changes in some of the members — just getting some of these people to start talking — have been profound. I’m blessed to be able to watch the group support them.”

Doors open for the March 29 event at 6:30 p.m. Supper starts at 7 and a comedy show follows. Tickets are $30 and available at Kennedy’s Animal Nutrition Store, located at 3770 Fifth Avenue E., or by calling 306-981-6083.