Help­ing Cir­cle still cook­ing

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

Ladies so­cial groups are not as nu­mer­ous to­day as they were thirty years ago; un­for­tu­nate since these groups were of­ten quite good at rais­ing money for lo­cal causes and pro­vid­ing help to com­mu­nity mem­bers when they needed it most. But thank­fully,

some have sur­vived, of­ten be­cause of their abil­ity to evolve with the chang­ing times.

The “Help­ing Cir­cle of Stanstead South United Church” is one such group that has been op­er­at­ing in a few dif­fer­ent forms and un­der a few dif­fer­ent names for over sixty years. “I think it’s safe to say that the orig­i­nal group started back in the 1940’s and I think it was started by Mrs. Gustafson. That group went for a few years, dis­banded for a lit­tle while, then Edith Selby started it up again in the 1970’s. We had as many ladies from the Amer­i­can side as from the Cana­dian side back then,” ex­plained Made­lyn Cur­tis, a past pres­i­dent of the or­ga­ni­za­tion who has been a mem­ber since the 1970’s.

At one time, when the ages didn’t mix to­gether as much, the club was ac­tu­ally com­prised of three groups: “Ladies Aid” was for se­nior women; the “Help­ing Cir­cle” was for mid­dle-aged women; and the “35 Club” which was also called the “Canusa Club” at one time, was for the younger crowd.

There was never a short­age of ideas for fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties from the group’s mem­bers over the years. “Years ago we used to have a Mother and Daugh­ter Ban­quet. And if you didn’t have a daugh­ter to bring to it, you bor­rowed one,” re­mem­bered Mrs. Cur­tis. “And we used to have craft ses­sions to pre­pare things for Christ­mas. Boy that was fun. We’d do that at Mrs. Law­ton’s in Derby Line. Peo­ple were more crafty back then and it was sur­pris­ing what we would come up with.”

The group also held card par­ties, bazaars, pic­nics, served din­ners to a bridge club and the lo­cal club of Ma­sons, and held tur­key sup­pers. “Once we cooked the tur­keys on the other side, in the United States, and then the bor­der of­fi­cers wouldn’t let us cross back into Canada with the cooked tur­keys!” said Made­lyn.

With only about eigh­teen mem­bers, the Help­ing Cir­cle now holds around five big fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties a year, all in the hall of the Stanstead South United Church. “We hold a Spring Lun­cheon, with pretty sand­wiches and won­der­ful desserts, in May, al­ways on a Satur­day,” said Bar­bara Bruh­muller, the club’s pres­i­dent. “As a rule we have a ‘white ele­phant ta­ble’ with hand­i­crafts and a va­ri­ety of used items at the Spring Lun­cheon,” added Made­lyn.

The club holds a large yard sale ev­ery year in­stead of hold­ing bazaars. “We usu­ally hold ours be­fore the town’s garage sale. Peo­ple just do­nate things like house­hold items and clothes, and then they come back and buy things,” said Mrs. Bruh­muller.

One of their new­est ac­tiv­i­ties, a chicken pie din­ner, was very pop­u­lar last year, bring­ing out both men and women for the de­li­cious, home-baked pies. The club plans to re­peat that fundraiser again this year, in Septem­ber. The pre­par­ing as­sorted casseroles like scal­loped pota­toes, chicken pies, mac­a­roni and cheese casse­role... and we serve pan­cakes and real maple syrup for dessert. Last year our turnout was so good that we ran a lit­tle short of pan­cakes. But we’ll be ready this time!” promised Bar­bara.

Af­ter learn­ing about the club’s ac­tiv­i­ties, I asked Made­lyn and Bar­bara what they liked about be­ing mem­bers. “It keeps us ac­tive and I like the so­cial as­pect,” said Made­lyn. Bar­bara joined the group in 2006, only about a year af­ter mov­ing to Stanstead from Mon­treal. “I look for­ward to the Cir­cle. They’re a re­ally nice group of ladies – dear friends. I’ve learnt a lot from the older ladies and heard all kinds of sto­ries. And I’ve got­ten some won­der­ful recipes,” said Bar­bara.

If you would like more in­for­ma­tion about The Help­ing Cir­cle or would like to do­nate items for their sales, call pres­i­dent Bar­bara Bruh­muller at 819 876-7029. New mem­bers are al­ways wel­come and they don’t have to be a mem­ber of the United Church con­gre­ga­tion.

The Help­ing Cir­cle raises money through their ac­tiv­i­ties for sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Stanstead South United Church, CAB RH Rediker, the Ma­gog Hos­pi­tal, the Haskell Li­brary, MIRA and NECKA, a soup kitchen in New­port. The mem­bers also make up Christ­mas bas­kets of fruit for shut-ins on both sides of the bor­der, among other char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties.

Made­lyn Christ­mas Lun­cheon, held in Novem­ber, is an­other well-at­tended ac­tiv­ity. And in­stead of hold­ing a pic­nic be­fore the club’s sum­mer break, now the women go out to a restau­rant to­gether. “It’s a treat for our mem­bers af­ter cook­ing casseroles all year,” said Mrs. Bruh­muller.

Soon the mem­bers of the Help­ing Cir­cle will once again be putting on their oven mitts: their an­nual Shrove Tues­day Sup­per is just around the cor­ner, on March 8th from 4:30 to 7:00 pm. “Our mem­bers will be

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Cur­tis (left) and club pres­i­dent Bar­bara Bruh­muller do­ing a lit­tle prepara­tory work for their Shrove Tues­day Pan­cake Sup­per, sched­uled for March 8th.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.