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.
South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds recently tabled a motion that will help govern the rules conduct for council members, now and into the future.
Deputy Mayor Jim Locke seconded the motion, with every member of council supporting the formation of such a document.
Prefacing the need for such a document, Mayor Byvelds said, “I will first state that we, as a council have not had any major issues. However, I believe it is a course of action that will make us a better council.”
He called the formation of a code of conduct, “a proactive approach to avoid problems that can occur. “This is a proactive approach that we and future council’s will abide by.”
Staff will draft a code that will provide confirmation of each individual councillor’s role.
It will lay out protocol for how council responds to the community and council’s behaviour within it.
It will set standards of confidentiality and outline how council will work with staff concerning operational issues.
It will deal with respecting the decision-making process and lay out protocol for litigation or possible litigation issues.
Communication process for both the public and the media will also form part of this document, along with reputation management and accepting gifts and benefits.
Byvelds list of goals for this documents also lists engagement of incompatible activity and defining more closely conflict of interest.
Professional development, interpersonal behavior and compliance and implementation are also part of his list.
“A code of conduct certainly is not unique to South Dundas, as many municipalities have implemented various versions,” said Byvelds. “I will work with staff to have them bring forth a code that is fairly complete and will certainly be one that council can work with. It will have a fair process for issues to be dealt with.
As seconder to the motion, Locke was supportive, only adding that other communities have had issues and that this type of document is being put into place in many municipalities across the province.
“I totally support the concept of a code of conduct,” said South Dundas councillor Jim Graham. “Situations have arisen showing that we do need this, so I support it 100 percent.”
“I think from time to time there is likely a need for a code of conduct,” agreed councillor Archie Mellan.
“This is a good proactive exercise to do, and to get taken care of before there are any issues,” said councillor Evonne Delegarde.
This is only the first step in the process of implementing a council code of conduct, drafts will be prepared and reviewed before the final vote is before council.
“Canada wanted cheap labour, and Britain wanted rid of waifs and strays. It was a win/win situation…but not for these children,” said Glenna Smith-Walkden, president of the East British Home Child Family. On Saturday, August 31, she and many of the descendents of the nearly 100,000 children shipped to Canada and into servitude as farm labourers, gathered at the Aultsville Train Station (by arrangement with Upper Canada Village and the St. Lawrence Parks). Descendents want Canadians to understand the trials, the fears, the harsh lives, that many of these innocents faced in Canada from the 1800s until the late 1920s. Taken from poor parents, orphanages, or the London streets, these children often grew up believing they were “bad people” who somehow deserved the abuse many suffered at the hands of the farm families which “adopted” them. Today, their descendents honour them with exhibits, momentos, photographs and artifacts, on display at the Train Station, all September, on weekends. September 28, British Home Child Day, there will be a banquet at the Morrisburg Legion, open to the public (contact Nancy Edmonds).
He is charming. He is funny. He is poignant. He spins yarns that make you feel you’re leaning on a rough wooden railing, in the heat of a Southern summer night, in some no-name little bar in the middle of no where.
He is a Blues Man.
Doug MacLeod, internationally renowned singer/song writer, was in Morrisburg on Friday, November 11, for one concert only at the Lakeshore Drive United Church. MacLeod is an acknowledged master of the blues. His South Dundas audience experienced a rare treat when he took up his Nashville Guitar, sat down on the simple stage and played.
It’s hard, attending a MacLeod concert, to separate his music from the stories he spins while he is on stage. As he said in an earlier interview with The Leader, “blues is the true facts of life.” His stories reflect a life not always led on the straight and narrow, a life with some rocky edges to it. But the music grows out of this past. And there is the humour and wit of experience in what he says and sings.
“When you walk down the street/Don’t you make no judgement on people that you meet…Remember these words/ ‘cause these words are true/They were once children just like you…” (Children Like You)
Sometimes, he sang, “all you need to see the goodness around you/ Is brand new eyes..” (Brand New Eyes).
There may have been a message in his music, but it was never driven home with a fist. Just a wink, and a sense of humour.
“Here’s a song about crazy people,” MacLeod told the audience. “One of every three people is crazy. Did you know that? (pause) Take a look at who you’re sitting next to.”
He had the audience roaring with laughter when he described a ZuZu Woman. “Y’all know what that is? That’s a woman who loves you so much she will let you eat crackers in her bed.” And his raucous delivery of “Turkey Leg Woman” (“I’m protesting against skinny women!”) brought the house down.
His fingers flying over the Nashville Guitar, MacLeod’s voice, mellow, driving, animated, soulful, reflected the ever changing moods of the songs he sang.
“This Old River,” written for a friend of his who eventually lost her life to cancer, was simple, soft and deeply moving. “I went to see her when she knew she was dying. She was out in her backyard still planting trees and flowers. This woman who was gonna leave us so soon was planting life.”
It stood out in an evening of stand out music.
The enthusiastic audience attending the MacLeod concert knew they had been in the presence of one of the all time great Blues men.
“I never play the same song the same way twice,” Doug MacLeod told his listeners. “You Morrisburg folks are the only folks in the whole world hearing these songs exactly like this.”