MORRISBURG – One hour and 152 men with $100 each, made a difference to two worthwhile groups November 6th at the inaugural meeting of the 100 Men of South Dundas. Benefiting from the meeting were two local groups, each with similar goals, helping others.
Wheels of Hope, a volunteer program run by the Canadian Cancer Society of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry and Prescott-Russell, finished in first place in voting. The group asked for $5,000 to fund transportation for people undergoing cancer treatments specifically in South Dundas. It received $5,200.
“I am so thrilled,” said Allison St. Jean from the CCSSDGPR. “It’s just a testament to how great our community is to bring together so many great charities and a phenomenal group of men to make a difference in the community.”
The Wheels of Hope program pays the mileage and any associated parking fees for volunteers to take cancer patients to treatment and doctor’s appointments.
“Last year there were 176 trips in South Dundas, and we had to bring in volunteers from other areas as there was only one volunteer from the area,” St. Jean said. She added that she hoped to recruit more drivers from South Dundas, which will help make the $5,200 go event further.
“When we bring in a driver from Cornwall to come here, we have to pay that mileage too,” St. Jean said.
She reiterated that the funds provided at 100 Men of South Dundas will stay in the community.
“These will only be used for helping those in South Dundas that need it.”
Finishing in second place normally would mean a smaller prize than winning. For Seaway District High School’s parent council, that was not the case. It received the full $10,000 that was asked for in its presentation to the audience. The parent council committed late in October to raising $30,000 to fund a refit for that school’s Learning Commons, or library.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said parent council chair Sandra Cummins. “How amazing is it that students are going to grow up seeing this generosity from the community, and be inspired in the future.”
In her presentation earlier in the evening, Cummins cited the lack of up-to-date resources in the Learning Commons, from computers to books, and furniture, as the group’s reason for fundraising.
“When you compared the Learning Commons in other schools to us, Seaway is far behind,” she said.
The driving force behind the presentation was literacy scores. Cummins said that in 2017-18, 52 per cent of students at Seaway who took the Grade 10 Ontario Literacy Test did not pass. The test is a requirement to graduate high school and students must receive a mark of 75 per cent or higher.
Cummins said the improvements can begin with this first $10,000 that has been received. Meanwhile she said the group will continue fundraising to continue marking off the “to-do list”.
“It was a wonderful surprise,” said Seaway principal Anne-Marie Bulbeck. “It was just two weeks ago that I presented this to school council and we decided to go for it.”
She told The Leader that the parent council had committed to two years of fundraising to raise the $30,000 needed for the upgrades, but if it was raised faster that would only benefit the students more.
Bulbeck said that once the group has prioritized its list, work will begin on the projects right away.
Organizers of 100 Men of South Dundas were happy with the turnout and support for the event.
“I’m thrilled we had 152 men here tonight,” said Mark Lewis, one of the organizers of 100 Men of South Dundas. “It’s a simple way to get together and do something good in the community. It’s great to have these two groups win.”
In all, 12 groups presented at the event, including the two winning groups.
Morrisburg Public School presented a package of programs involving art, dance, music and science that their request for $10,000 would fund.
Presenter Sarah Barclay-Thomas said that the programs would expose students to opportunities that they otherwise would not have.
The Chesterville and District Agricultural Society asked for $7,000 to build a new 100 by 200 foot outdoor show ring.
Jim Wilson from the Iroquois Waterfront Committee presented a $5,000 plan to add historical signs showing key geographical and architectural elements of old Iroquois, in honour of the 60th anniversary of the official opening of the St. Lawrence-Seaway.
South Dundas Soccer presented a $7,500 plan to partner with Seaway’s construction trades program and the municipality to construct two new pairs of soccer goals for its community soccer program.
The House of Lazarus asked for $5,000 to assist with that group’s Handyman Heroes program, a program that matches local tradespeople who volunteer their time to families in need of home or automobile repairs.
To expand its Leaders 4 Life program, the Boys and Girls Club of Cornwall/SDG asked for $10,000 to bring the 16-week long leadership program to South Dundas. Leaders 4 Life engages youth to learn different skills and become leaders in their schools.
The Reverend Jon Martin with the Anglican Parish of South Dundas pitched a $6,000 proposal to help start a free music and theatre program for kids from low-income families in the community.
The Morrisburg Waterfront Committee asked the audience for $5,000 to continuing the installation of historical interpretive signs along the waterfront park walkway showing more pictures and information of Morrisburg before the Seaway project.
Terry Triskle with Community Food Share asked for $9,000 to cover the loan repayment for this year to South Dundas, for its capital work that was completed with moving the food bank to the former Morrisburg library branch at the Morrisburg Arena.
Lastly, Sue Peters, archivist with the Dundas County Archive, asked for $10,000 to fund a program to archive, digitize and preserve local newspapers.
Organizers of the event are already working on the next event, to take place at the beginning of November, 2019.