Interview with Jillian Harrisby
I had the chance to catch up with Jillian Harris (The Bachelorette, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) to chat about this Thursday’s Cocktails for a Cause supporting Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver. Ever-grounded and with her lovely mother at her side, we had a great chat at a local coffee shop.
Visiting Vancouver (from Chicago) for about one week each month I asked Jillian what’s on her list of “must see” or “must do” things each time she returns. “Granville Island is my happy place,” she mentioned immediately. “Rodney’s Oyster House is my favourite place to go chill and have a bite to eat. Then my favourite place to shop here is Aritzia and The Cross on Homer.” However, when it comes to feeling at home, there is no landmark or shop on the very top of her list. “My all-time favourite place is my backyard. I love my backyard it’s got tons of greenery, it’s my safe-haven. I love Chicago but I miss nature — I miss the outdoors.”
On Big Brothers…
“I was a mentor for Big Brother years before I ever did Bachelorette,” said Jillian. “I’m going to say something cliche but it really changed my life. I was a workaholic, I was very stressed out in my life, and I was self-absorbed with all the things going on in my life, which I think we all are in some way. We just get so busy and I felt like I missed that small town community so I signed up for Big Brothers and I just fell in love with it.”
Jillian was a mentor at Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver for one hour a week, for four years. “I hung out at a school with a bunch of kids, I skateboarded, I played basketball, I cooked and I realized that once a week I was coming back to work grounded and refreshed. Even my boss was like ‘dude, I love it when you go to Big Brothers for the day because you come back ready to take on life’ so I just continued to do that.”
However, when it came time to move on and up to the world of television, her volunteering days in Vancouver were put on hold. “When I came back [from The Bachelorette] I signed up for Big Brothers in Chicago to do it again. Although I was really excited to work with a little one again, I realized that through my audience I had the ability to do something bigger.”
Jillian is currently on the board of Big Brothers in Chicago, helping to track down big companies and big labels to help sponsor and promote the organization. “But I kind of left Big Brothers Vancouver in the dust,” she added. “So I emailed them and I said, ‘now that my life has settled down, I want to get involved again and I want to help out again’.”
On Cocktails for a Cause…
During one of her appointments at Delta Laser she mentioned this urge to once again support Big Brothers in Vancouver and they were instantly on board with her plan. “I said we should have a party – go to Earls, have some cocktails,” and Cocktails for a Cause was born.
“Sometimes charity events are a little somber but I want to do something really fun.” There will be a red carpet and the chance for all attendees to feel like a star with some pro photography by Karolina Turek. “It’s going to be an incredible event, I’m pumped for it.” Jillian added that she’s been extremely “hands-on” throughout the entire process of setting up this event. Through countless daily emails she had worked with Big Brothers to do the marketing, arrange prizing, and even select the cocktails that will be served.
“Big Brothers deserves it. They have everything it takes to change these kids’ lives and as cliche as it sounds, the kids are going to shape our future and there are a lot of kids out there right now who are missing out on the attention that they need to grow — to be a healthy individual, mentally and personally and Big Brothers makes that happen.”
Jillian added that if you can’t come on Thursday you can still head to deltalaser.ca and donate. “Donate whatever you can, $5, $10, $100,000 if you can. Whatever you can do, you need to help this organization because it will shape Vancouver.”
There are still tickets remaining for Cocktails for a Cause this Thursday at Earls in Strawberry Hill (Surrey/Delta border). Grab your friends and head out to support this cause.
Looking ahead, Jillian will be heading back to the US to start filming Extreme Makeover: Home Edition‘s new season next month doing what she describes as her “dream job”. You can catch up with her online in the meantime on Twitter @DesignerJillian.