Karen is a Belleville resident who through poetry, helps others understand the challenges of mental illness while giving back to her community. She is a graduate of Loyalist College DSW Program and a recipient of the Velleman Foundation Award. In 2012 she was nominated by CMHA-HPE for the CAMH Transforming Lives Award. In 2016, as part of the National Poetry Contest, her poem ‘It’s Eleven O’Clock’ was published in Overture A New Collection of Canadian Poetry.
‘Belleville Strong Heroes and Other Poems’ raised $150.00 for MADD Quinte and $100.00 for The Firemen’s Christmas Toy Drive. Special poems ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ for VARAK and ‘A Stage called Life’ were written for BTG’s 60th Anniversary and includes a more detailed list of events and other fundraisers.
In 2017 the CD Release of “The Butterfly Song” by Heather and Safron supported Community Living Belleville and Area and their Community Participation Program. This song was inspired by the poem “Lessons of a Butterfly” from Karen’s book ‘Snapshots’, written for a person she supported. The poem also inspired the CD cover typography as part of the Loyalist College Student Run Art Show in 2013. Photo of typography by Lola Reid Allin.
‘The Butterfly Song’ received rave reviews by local musicians Andy Forgie (All You Need is Love), Al Zaback (For The Love of a Song) and Dave Dexter (Night Kitchen Too). CD release was on April 6, 2017 at the Belleville Public Library. The poem was read, a live performance was sung by Heather and Safron, Sandra from Community Living Belleville and Area (where Karen volunteers) shared about their program which emphasized inclusion, and everyone enjoyed a concert by the Happy Harmony Choir. Performers donated their proceeds raising over $500.00 for the program. To download ‘The Butterfly Song’ visit www.heatherandsafron.com
Coming up on March 14, 2018 from 6pm-8pm Heather & Safron, along with Karen and a Community Living Belleville and Area representative, will be at Chapters/Quinte Mall hosting a special fundraiser. CD’s and copies of ‘Belleville Strong Hero’s and Other Poems’ will also be available.
Other works published by Karen; 2008 Discarded (Dark Night of My Soul While Suffering from Mental Illness), 2010 Discarded Again and 2012 Snapshots. Proceeds from these books have benefitted The Belleville Poppy Fund, the Parent/Child Youth Clinic (closed in 2017), and CMHA-HPE. Their Executive Director in 2008 was Dianne Poirer and in her memory for the year 2018 $1.00 from the sales of ‘Discarded’ will go to the Alfred Fredrick Community Builders.
Karen has also shared her poetry with QAC The Third Thursday of the Month ‘Out of Order’ with Darren Cole, NAMI Family to Family. The video ‘Discarded’ was part of Loyalist College 2015 Bell Let’s Talk Day, view this video on the YouTube search ‘discardedKaren’.
Karen’s latest poem ‘ Canada 150 Freedom’ was read by Belleville Mayor Taso Christopher on June 27, 2017 at the city council meeting. This poem is her vision for Canada.
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