The final notice has been received and the Helping Hand, a mission of the Pentecostal Church, has until October 17th to vacate its location in the old Morrisburg High School, where it has been a source of clothing for those in need for the past 11 years.
Unfortunate, but true, the Helping Hand used clothing depot, answers a very big need in South Dundas and the surrounding area with an average of 2000-2,500 visitors benefiting from it each year.
The fact that the Helping Hand has to vacate is not a surprise as they were put on notice way back in 2009, that they were in their location on a monthly basis. With the upcoming renovation to the historic high school building to house an expansion to the St. Lawrence Medical and the South Dundas Municipal offices, the monthly basis has ended and the Helping Hand is closing.
The problem is that since they were put on notice of the eventual loss of their location they have been unable to find a new location that would be rent-free, or at the very least, very cheap.
“We have a lot of people not happy about it,” says Pentecostal minister, Rev. Duncan Perry. “But we can’t afford to go somewhere else. We have a couple thousand dollars (donations) a year coming in, but that is not enough to rent.”
“We don’t want to locate in the mall, and the only other building in town is the former St. Lawrence Parks building.”
According to Rev. Perry, that building is in such poor shape it is no longer an option, and he understands the Food Bank will replace the County Library in its lower level arena location should the library move to the high school, once renovated.
“I was really hoping they (municipality) would give us half of the bottom of the arena,” says Rev. Perry. “But I understand that it is going to the arena staff for a workshop/storage. It would have been a perfect fit for us.”
“We’ve been open for 11 years, and we are averaging 2,000 to 2,500 people a year. The $2,000 we receive in donations (goodwill donations from those who benefit from the Helping Hand, and donations from the community) is put back into the community.”
Recently, money was donated to the Breakfast Programs at Seaway High and Morrisburg Public Schools. “We’ve also given a lot to the Food Bank over the years.”
“People have come to us and told us that if we weren’t (Helping Hand) here, they didn’t know what they would do. The clothing donated to us is top notch and we made a decision at the start, that if we wouldn’t wear it, it wouldn’t be used.”
“One lady has been using it over and over through the years to clothe her children.”
“Those are the kind of stories we hear every week.”
“It is really amazing what we have done locally, and we’ve sent truckloads of clothes overseas when we couldn’t handle it all.”
The Helping Hand is run by volunteers and there is no charge for the clothing, although visitors can make goodwill donations.
“We have helped people from all over. We wish we could keep it open, we really do. It’s too bad, and I understand the town doesn’t have the money for a building.”
“I do believe the number of working poor is getting larger. It’s unfortunate we need a place like this but we do. If there was a place found, we wouldn’t even think about shutting it down. If they would reconsider letting us share with the Food Bank that would be ideal.”
That, however, according to Rev. Perry, is not an option at this time, and the Helping Hand is preparing to close by the October 17 deadline. Arrangements have been made for representatives from Agape in Cornwall to visit the facility, with the hope that they will be able to take the clothing.
Located at 40, Fifth Street West in Cornwall, the Agape Centre runs a Food Bank, Soup Kitchen and Thrift Shoppe.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds says he is appreciative of the service the Helping Hand provides to the community. “It’s unfortunate, but hopefully they will find somewhere in the community.”
Byvelds confirmed that the long-term plan is for removal of the former Parks building. “That building is done, and we are only spending what we have to, to keep it going.”
He says there has been some discussion of moving the Food Bank to the arena location, but the discussions are very preliminary and nothing is decided and nothing can or will be decided until the final plans are in place for the high school.
Those plans, are for the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic to occupy the first floor (ground level) and the municipal offices to occupy some or all (if necessary) of the second floor. Once these two entities are accommodated then the remaining space, including the third floor, will be considered.
Two World’s One Price! That is the theme running through Parks of the St. Lawrence attractions for 2012 with the roll-out of a new Reciprocal Program.
The new offer (based on a buy-one-get-one of equal or less value principle) aims to boost value to guests with added experiences by providing a free admission to Upper Canada Village with the purchase of a Fort Henry admission – and vice versa. Or it can be redeemed for one of the day-use/beach areas at the campgrounds.
The free visit can be used anytime throughout the regular season for regular day programs at the heritage attractions or at day-use/beach areas at all Parks of the St. Lawrence.
Plus at time of check-in, campers to Parks of the St. Lawrence campgrounds along the St. Lawrence River will also receive two free passes to visit either Upper Canada Village or Fort Henry.
Upper Canada Village is opening this Saturday, May 19 and will remain open until October 7.
Visitors can join in the opening weekend celebrations on Sunday, May 20 as the Village celebrates Queen Victoria’s birthday with music, a militia muster, patriotic speeches, fire engine trials and 1860s athletic games.
The Village will be decorated in an array of colour and patriotisms with flags, bunting and decorations. Guests can even help out with the Village’s ‘Queen’, a hand-pumped fire engine and indulge in a piece of birthday cake.
Other upcoming events include the Heritage Plant Sale May 26-27, Sheep Shearing Weekend June 1-4, Medieval Festival June 9-11 and the Fantastic Fibres and Quilt Show June 16-17.
“The 2012 season is one of exciting rejuvenation for all of our attractions and experiences,” says Darren Dalgleish, CEO of the St. Lawrence Parks Commission. “The past three years has represented an unprecedented level of investment in our product and visitor experiences of over $40 million dollars.”
“The new Commission-wide reciprocal program and lower admission pricing in some areas will assist in creating value-added family experiences while stretching our guest’s vacation dollars. We clearly have the best attraction deal in the province this season and anticipate it will translate into more eager guests through our gates.”
“Most of our guest experiences are delivered through our staff and professional interpreters,” says SLPC marketing director Bryan Mercer. “They are an integral part of our experience-based products. We’ve launched a new promotional campaign this year centered around visiting our many sites and meeting our front line staff.”
“These are the key people that truly make our guest experiences memorable and become the centre of thousands of guest photographs each year. Our entire team is excited to see just how many guests recognize them from our ad campaign!”
Along with a schedule of themed weekend events and activities, Upper Canada Village is adding some exciting new experiences.
Starting in June, visitors can take a ride in an open air, Vintage biplane in their choice of the Village Tour or the Seaway Tour.
The shorter Village Tour for $79 per person will fly over the Village, Upper Canada Golf Course, Crysler Park Marina and area. The longer Seaway Tour for $120 per person will also take in the Long Sault Parkway, Lost Villages and the St. Lawrence River. The price includes admission to Upper Canada Village and a souvenir scarf. As spaces are limited, reservations are recommended.
Campgrounds – Opening May 18
A number of significant investments have been made throughout the parks system to improve the services and amenities available to campers with all improvements aiming to make the camping experience memorable and enjoyable.
These improvements include: The new reciprocal program; new improved and quicker check-in process to campgrounds on the Long Sault Parkway; New registration buildingis at five campgrounds; over 100 amp campsite upgrades at McLaren campground; new theme playground equipment at several beaches; two new camper cabins at McLarne Campground; new washroom/shower/laundry facility at Ivy Lea Campground
Upcoming events include the ”Thunder on the River” Hydroplane Races at Mille Roches Beach on June 2 and 3.
Camping reservations can be booked online 24/7 or by calling the Customer Service Unit.
Upper Canada Golf Course
With spring arriving early this year, Upper Canada has been open for several weeks already. Conditions are superb!
New membership categories have been introduced which provide great value and flexibility to players of all levels.
A “Pay-as-you-go” membership option for just $250 (weekdays anytime and afternoons only on weekends /holidays) plus $20 per round is the perfect option for someone with limited time or who would like to try Upper Canada before committing to a full membership.
Upper Canada has been selected as the host site for the Canadian Tour professional golf event The Great Waterway Classic in 2013. The Chase the Dream qualifying event for the 2012 Classic will be held at Upper Canada on June 3, 2012.
The clubhouse dining lounge was completely renovated last year and the club has taken over the operation of the food and beverage services and is offering a new menu at golfer friendly prices.
Tee off times can be booked up to 14 days in advance either online at “www.UpperCanadaGolf.com” www.UpperCanadaGolf.com or by calling 800-437-2233 or 613-543-2003.
Crysler Park Marina
Demand for dock space at one of the region’s favourite marinas continues, and Crysler Park Marina recently underwent yet another dockage expansion adding 44 slips plus a 175 foot long finger dock to accommodate larger boats, more transient traffic and seasonal boaters.
On October 17, 2012, at a scheduled meeting of the Canadian Club, Catherine Merkley, a Morrisburg resident, will be reuniting with her now famous former boss, Robert R. Fowler.
Merkley worked for Fowler when he was the Deputy Minister in the Department of National Defence (DND) in Ottawa in the early 1990s. He was then posted to be a Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in 1995.
Merkley went to New York for an “all girls weekend” in 1996 and visited Fowler and his family at his residence in downtown New York City.
From 1990 to 1995, Merkley was Fowler’s Administrative Assistant dealing with the Prime Minister’s Office, Privy Council Office, Minister of National Defence, all other Group Principals within the DND and Other Government Departments, at a trying time for DND, that being during the Somalia Affair and the disbanding of the Airborne Regiment.
When Fowler was posted to the UN, Merkley was transferred to a Staff Officer position in the Personnel Group working for Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire (now a Quebec Senator) and working with General Rick Hillier, (who later became the Chief of the Defence Staff, the highest ranking military position in the DND).
Merkley’s next position was that of the first female civilian Coordinator after the move of the Canadian Army Headquarters to Ottawa, then she became an Administration Manager for the first DNDCanadian Forces Ombudsman, Andre Marin, and finally she was promoted to the Human Resources Manager position with the Judge Advocate General (the military lawyers for DND).
Merkley took early retirement, after 28 years service as a civilian with DND, in 2005 to move back to her roots, near Chesterville.
In 2008, when Fowler was kidnapped by the Al-Qaeda, Fowler’s former personal staff of 10 employees, including Merkley, most of whom are still in the National Capital Region, were in constant contact via E-mail. The minute Fowler was released they sighed a huge sigh of relief.
As soon as Fowler’s book “A Season in Hell – My 130 Days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda” was published, Merkley rushed out to buy a copy and hopes to have it personally autographed by him at the meeting.
October 17, 2012 will be their first time seeing each other since 1996.
In 2007, Merkley, with her husband, Kevin, moved to their retirement home on County Road 4 just outside of Morrisburg. Since that time, Merkley has been a Family Law Assistant for the local law firm of Gorrell, Grenkie and Remillard, acting as Family Law Assistant to J. Douglas Grenkie.