Eastern Star, helping women with cancer


Gay Rust, Worthy Matron of the Moonlight Chapter #224 of the Eastern Star in Iroquois, completed this year’s ‘special project’ last Thursday night when she made a total of $1,500 in donations.

This year’s project, which she worked on with Worthy Patron Jack Tousaw of the Friendly Brothers Iroquois Mason Lodge #143, was to “help women with cancer.” 

“Our goal was to raise money for the local community, and we also wanted to honour the memory of Friendly Brother Gary Richards.”

Three donations of $500 each were presented to the Dundas County Hospice represented by the organization’s secretary Marilyn Boissonneault, the Winchester Hospital Heelers represented by Heelers captain Carole Hall and to Mason’s Worshipful Master Ron Cowalchuk in memory of the late Gary Richards who was a  Master Mason and a member of the Eastern Star.

Gary’s widow, Kay Richards, joined Master Cowalchuk to receive the memorial.

“We try very hard to integrate with the community and be part of the community,” said Cowalchuk. “We try to stand as an example for the young people. Brother Gary was a very important part of our community. He was a strong person with good ideals. We are constantly remembering and missing Gary, and I am touched to receive this on behalf of the Lodge. We appreciate everything the Moonlight Chapter has done, and we will find a way to put a memory together to remind us of Gary as we go forward.”

On behalf of the Dundas County Hospice, Boissonneault thanked the Moonlight Chapter.

“Even though it is our 20th anniversary this year there are still people in the community who do not know that we exist or what we do,” said Boissonneault of the Hospice that provides a range of services in the home of a person/family facing a terminal illness.

Boissonneault outlined that the Dundas County Hospice has trained volunteers who go into the homes, bereavement counselling programs and an equipment loans cupboard.

“We have a whole lot of stuff for people who need it, and all of our services are free to residents of Dundas County who are facing a life-threatening illness. At any one time, we can have as many as 65 clients.”

Boissonneault also pointed out that because the Hospice receives, only about one third provincial funding, it relies heavily on the financial help of the community.

“This donation is going to go a long way in helping someone have an easier time in a very difficult time in their lives.”

Carole Hall too thanked the group and explained that the Winchester Hospital Heelers are a group of individuals, many of whom are cancer survivors, who are dedicated to making a difference to the lives of cancer patients and their families.”

To date the Heelers have raised more than $525,000 through their participation in the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s  60 km Walk Weekends to End Breast/Women’s Cancers which began in 2006 and ended in 2011.

While 25 per cent of the funds they raised went to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, 75 per cent of over $392,000 was returned to benefit the Winchester District Memorial Hospital cancer program.

“This money is financing the purchase of a new digital mammography machine that offers the newest technology in the prevention and early detection of breast cancer,” said Hall.

She explained that with the end of the Ottawa walk last year, the Heelers committed to continue their efforts. “Our current goal is to raise another $125,000 by September 8, to pay the outstanding balance on the digital mammography machine.” 

To do so, the Heelers have received the blessing of the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Foundation which will organize an event/walk this fall, “Heel ‘n Wheel for Local Cancer Care”.

The Heel ‘n Wheel walk/bike event, officially launched this past Friday, will take place September 8, 2012, with starting points in seven of the Heelers’ hometown communities including Morrisburg and South Mountain. (See related story in this week’s issue).

The entire Winchester Hospital community is being invited to participate and support the September “Heel ‘n Wheel”.

“We are good people here in the Eastern Star, and we will go farther and faster into the future now, knowing we have touched people,” said Rust following the presentations.

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