The Sonshine centre in Calgary is a place where victims of domestic abuse can take refuge, seek counselling and live for one year.

It’s a facility that hits close to home for the Vandrunen family.  

Forty years ago Lorraine Vandrunen left a violent living situation with her common-law husband, taking her daughter Jeanette with her.

"I was giving her a bath and she was black and blue and I asked her what had happened and she said her father had done it, she called him her dad, and the next day that's when we phoned the police and we left," Lorraine said.

Lorraine and Jeanette now volunteer at the centre.

Sonshine’s executive director says volunteers like them are irreplaceable.

"They understand the hardships, the emotional journey, the isolation, the fear, everything that everyone goes through and the effects on their children," said Christine Hall.

The Vandrunens help out by cleaning apartments, taking care of children who live there and by sharing their story.

"If my mom and I had this who knows where I would be today. Honestly it's so safe, and it's bright and it's clean and there are so many people here to help," said Jeanette.

They say the centre is needed.

Sonshine has been open for 35 years and costs more than $1 million to operate each year. The facility does not receive government funding.

Next week, organizers hope to raise more than $100,000 at a fundraising gala to maintain operational costs through to 2013.