When she answers the phone, it seems like a huge effort and one gets the sense that Bobbie-Jo Peterson is pulling herself up out of a deep sleep trying to grapple with what is being asked of her.
“It’s been rough,” is the only way Bobbie-Jo Peterson can describe how she feels about her illness. Peterson suffers from sarcoidosis, an auto immune disease, where an abnormal collection of chronic inflammatory cells form nodules in multiple organs. It’s a systemic disease with no cure and no real known cause.
“I’ve been dealing with bad health issues for 20-30 years,” said Peterson. “It’s been hard to pin point… I was diagnosed with this four years ago.”
As if ill health isn’t bad enough, Peterson has also been set back financially. Her subsidized rent went from $194 to $475 with only two weeks notice because of some sort of administrative decision.
“My rent went from affordable to not affordable,” said Peterson who lives on a very small CPP disability cheque. “There’s nothing I can do about it. It has set me way back and the stress doesn’t help (her health).”
Peterson said she is “literally scraping by,” doing whatever she has to do to keep going. She is allowed to supplement her disability cheque but because of her disease she can’t do a thing right now.
“I have good days and bad days but this has put me in a tail spin,” said Peterson.
Peterson has been a strong force with the Sooke Harbour Players, as a president, producer, director and back stage working with make up and costumes. She is also the marketing coordinator for her son’s football team. Most recently she has been volunteering and teaching Belmont students in the cosmetology class a little bit about stage make up in the theatre group’s Youth Mentoring Program. She gives generously of her time even though it is not easy with a disease that flares up unexpectedly.
“It’s great,” she said of the mentoring, “I will be going back… I love it.”
Now the arts community is rallying behind her and some of her friends have organized a benefit on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Dave Gallant, who has known Bobbie-Jo for some time, coordinates the monthly concert series for the folk society, and decided that he wanted to help by organizing a benefit.
“I’ve lived in Sooke for 30 years, almost half my life. We have a strong and caring community here, that steps up to the plate when friends are in need. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. When I learned about Bobbie-Jo’s situation, I knew I had to do something and putting on this benefit concert is something I know how to do. I purposely called on Sooke-based artists to be a part of this, because I wanted to keep it “community.” I know our community will come out and support Bobbie-Jo in her time of need.”
Gallant called Gord Phillips, whose blues infused folk rock style is a big hit with island audiences. Once Phillips heard the story he was immediately inspired to help out.
Thom Southwood, known in town for writing the local hit Howl The Musical, has worked with Bobbie-Jo on theatre projects for Sooke Harbour Players in the past, and was also keen to help out.
All three performers will be doing a set of their own music, and finishing the evening off playing together with the band.
“I’m feeling very blessed and grateful,” said Peterson.
Come on out and support this worthy cause and enjoy what promises to be an evening of first class entertainment.
Where: Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1962 Murray Road, Sooke
When: Saturday, Feb. 4, doors open at 7:30 p.m.