When they step out onto the TD Place pitch on Saturday to face Pacific FC, Atlético Ottawa will have a brand new look.
The club will be debuting the ‘Making It To Safety’ third kit, a stunning purple strip created in partnership with Shelter Movers Ottawa, and dedicated to survivors of intimate partner violence.
Shelter Movers is a non-profit organization which provides free moving and storage services to individuals who are fleeing violence or abuse. The kit is part of an ongoing partnership between the club and the organization dating back to last year.
“As do many things in this city, it starts with a phone call and it turns into an amazing opportunity,” Wendy Mitchell, chapter director of Shelter Movers Ottawa, told CanPL.ca. “I got a call from the team saying ‘Hey, we’re really interested in what [you] do, is there any way for us to get involved.’ I said, why don’t you come out for a move and get a feel for what the organization is about, and then we can take it from there?”
So a year ago, in May 2022, then Atleti captain Drew Beckie and a group of staff volunteered, helping a young mother move out of a shelter and into a new home. After that experience, all of them wanted to know how they could continue to help.
In the fall of last year, another opportunity presented itself when Shelter Movers held a special gala event in celebration of their 1,000th move. Atlético Ottawa’s Zachary Roy and Ballou Tabla attended, helping out with an immersive experience where attendees created marker drawings of what home meant to them.
“Out of that came this incredible idea to go beyond these drawings and create a jersey that we would be able to display the hope of people who are in shelters,” said Mitchell.
The kit features actual drawings by children who made their way to safety as a result of the effort of the Shelter Movers team. It is part of a continued effort from Atlético Ottawa to raise funds and awareness for the organization, so that they can complete their next 1,000 moves, and beyond.
“This relationship for us is important,” said Mitchell. “The team is very well respected in the community and the eyes of the community are on the team. I think it’s a really interesting connection to the real needs of our community; there was an epidemic of intimate partner violence declared in the spring in Ottawa. We know that there is a need for services in this area, and the team is helping to raise awareness.”