Since 1910, Goodfellows has served those in need
For those who are unaware, this year we lost our faithful manager, Colleen Renaud. Colleen had been the beating heart of the Goodfellows organization for 46 years primarily as general manager. She is greatly missed by Goodfellows and the many people she helped throughout her time with us.
While Colleen was receiving medical treatment, her daughter Shannon kept the club running very efficiently in her mother’s place. Shannon has now returned to her full-time position with the federal government. We cannot thank Shannon enough for her service during this time and we wish her great success in her future.
On another sad note, dedicated volunteer of 40 years – 15 years as a board member – Fred Martin passed away in 2016. Fred created “The Spirit of Christmas” which generated over $300,000 for Windsor Goodfellows’ clients. Fred was a generous man in his heart and as it turns out financially to us when he donated a large sum through his estate. Clearly Fred, although gone, remains with Goodfellows in spirit with the impact he has on all of us!
I was recently surprised and dismayed to read that Windsor had the highest rate of poverty in Canada as measured by the number of children living in low-income households in 2015. It is very interesting, to say the least, that Windsor Goodfellows was formed in 1910 to address poverty in this area so no child nor family would go hungry and the need for our services has not diminished.
Consider this: There is a new program, designed to help food bank users rise out of poverty, being implemented at the North York Harvest Food Bank. The program trains newcomers and people on social assistance in a range of hands-on skills using materials available at the food bank. Participants learn about loading and unloading trucks, shipping and receiving, managing paperwork and inventory as well as skills like adaptability, decision making and handling change. The program is meant to build confidence in the participants and enhance their ability to enter the workforce. If we truly want to break the cycle of poverty, we also need to consider what can be done to better enable people to secure meaningful work opportunities in the Windsor-Essex Region.
In support of children and families, we recently partnered with Maple City Bakery in Chatham to purchase bread in order to add this to the list of our food offerings. We also worked with Zehrs-Windsor to add soap and toothpaste to the list of personal care items. We are proud to be able to now offer a wider range of goods to the needy in our communities.
We are very fortunate to be able to provide lasting support to Windsor-Essex through the following: • year-round food bank • Christmas food distribution • children’s shoes and boot program, and • school breakfast program. Our Charity Golf Classic was a success, supported once again by Families First’s Brian and Mary Lynn Parent. Over $30,000 was raised from this event! Their generosity has been furthered by their support of our computers and breakfast programs for schools.
It should be mentioned that the provincial government is encouraging charities to consider consolidation where it makes sense. Pooling resources, using a common administration group and perhaps sharing the same facilities can help to cut costs thereby enabling improved efficiency of donation dollars. Again, we have to all work together to see where these opportunities may lie. Leading the way with this type of effort, the Toronto and York Region United Way groups joined together and are working on developing further support for their collective regions.
Recognizing that Windsor Goodfellows is just one of many groups supporting the less fortunate in this area, it comes as good news to learn that the United Way Windsor-Essex County have a fundraising goal to provide financial support to children at the poverty level through various programs. These programs will provide tutoring, mentoring, volunteering opportunities and ways to raise money for postsecondary education. I concur with United Way Windsor-Essex CEO Lorraine Goddard that donors want to see evidence that their donation is being used efficiently and effectively. Our own board of directors leads all of us in this regard through financially responsible leadership and through the distribution of brochures in all our appeals letters.
As Windsor Goodfellows prepare for the 2017 Holiday Season, I must thank all the past and present hard-working volunteers who have supported and continue to support the organization. Additionally, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our many citizens, local businesses and institutions from Windsor, LaSalle and Tecumseh. We especially thank St. Clair College for their years of support.
Of course, a longstanding, strong supporter of Goodfellows is the Windsor Star. They have supported us in many ways but most notably by providing us with the printed Old Newsboys Paper. Goodfellows truly appreciates the many years of past support and we look forward to many more.
To enable all people in need to access our services, Goodfellows has a wheelchair accessible entrance with automated doors and handicap parking spaces. During the Christmas season peak periods, we have garnered support from Windsor Parking Enforcement for both persons picking up boxes and our volunteers.
The Windsor Goodfellows club wishes everyone in our community a wonderful 2017 Holiday Season and a prosperous new year!