By Rachel Bell 
BELLEVILLE – Three Oaks Belleville , a shelter for abused women and children, holds a special place in the hearts of Lorraine O’Quinn and her husband Tom.
The couple has completed two five-day hikes abroad, raising a total of $18,500 for the shelter.
Their first hike was the Andes Mountains in Peru , where O’Quinn said they hiked altitudes of almost 15,000 feet above sea level for 5 days.
“We stayed in tents with no running water or electricity. The altitude made this hike tough because of the limited oxygen,” she said.
O’Quinn said their second hike was just as difficult.
“This past summer we hiked Iceland which was very extreme. We hiked between 2 glaciers where were faced a variety of landscapes, from green meadows to volcanic ash and ice fields,” she said. “There were extreme inclines and descents that we faced. One particular peak ridge called the “Cat Spine ” had a drop off on both sides which was extremely frightening. Our path was only about 1 and a half feet wide. We had several folks in our group have panic attacks and needed a lot of encouragement to make it across.”
The couple, however said they stayed calm.
“Tom and I just focused, look straight ahead and went for it. We covered 115 kilometres in 5 days. We had to set up our tents at the end of each day and take them down in the morning,” she said.
O’Quinn says spreading awareness to abuse against women and children is important to her and her husband.
“Tom and I got involved because we are very passionate about giving back to our community. It’s important to us to help bring awareness to abuse against women and children,” she said. “The needs of these women’s shelters is largely overlooked and underestimated. Many families, including our own are affected by abuse. It’s a beautiful feeling to help make a difference.”
The couple plans to trek again in the near future, and O’Quinn said she is looking forward to another new experience.
“We are waiting for them to announce our next hike this summer. So I’m not sure yet. Wherever it is it will be challenging, amazing and life-changing,” she said. “We really bonded with all the people we hiked with and have a bond that will keep us connected for life. It’s important we all do our part in making this world a better place. Be kind as you never know what someone is dealing with.”
She said her goal for her next hike is to raise at least $10,000 for Three Oaks.
“I love to get involved and give back. We did these hikes with a group of people through the Royal Lepage Shelter Foundation  which is owned by Royal Lepage. One hundred percent of the funds raised goes directly to shelter. Each person involved dedicate their funds to their shelter of choice,” she said.
On days that could have been about her, O’Quinn has chosen to put the focus on raising money for the shelter.
“People sponsor me, I had raffles, I donated my 50th birthday to this cause,” she said. “I asked people to come celebrate at my home where I provided food and drink and asked them to give me a donation for trek instead of bringing a gift. When we went to Machu Picchu, I rented the Empire Theatre and hired Yuk Yuk comedians.  I sold tickets to raise money as part of my fundraising. I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to raise the funds.”