May Court Club of Barrie is part of the country's oldest volunteer association, founded in Ottawa in 1898.  Now, 114 years and many, many communities later, you'd be hard pressed to count the thousands of acts of kindness done by May Court members across this country. The Barrie club, founded in 1970, has 134 members and achieves a tremendous amount. That's why I call them multi-taskers!

There they are, volunteering at the little coffee shop at Grove Park Home, going room to room serving tea and coffee, delivering interesting reading books, generally enriching the lives of residents. They do the same thing at the IOOF Home in Allandale. All these senior residents benefit from seasonal parties (Hallowe'en will be next), Christmas plants, birthday parties and just a kind word and time with a resident. They make significant financial contributions to each home as well.

There are 10 clubs across Ontario these days, the oldest in Ottawa. The club believes in community partnerships and teamwork and service hours. Certainly the Barrie club members blend all of these elements of their vision statement to literally 'gift' Barrie with services that wouldn't exist without them.

Perhaps the club's most public event is Homes for the Holidays. Each year they identify different types of homes--new, old, small, large, unique--and they team up with designers and florists to decorate these homes for Christmas. And then ticketholders visit the homes, picking up great ideas for their own Christmas decor. Homes for the Holidays is in its 21st year and every dollar from every ticket goes into May Court activities across this city. This year, Homes for the Holidays will be held November 17 and 18. Tickets, at $25 each, can be picked up at The Gingham Door or through the website. It takes 280 volunteers to staff these homes during the festival... a big reach for a club with 134 members! Start or end at the Tea Room and Shop at Barrie Country Club and self-tour yourself with a detailed guide.

And while that pre-Christmas celebration is in full swing, May Court members quietly go about their business, funding this, and collecting for that. May Court also runs the Gingham Door, previously worn clothing boutique, on 114A Dunlop St E, retail run totally by volunteers.

May Court members will raise over $100,000 this year--quite a feat given there are more services than events--and I thought you'd enjoy knowing where they direct these funds.

The David Busby Centre receives $4000 for direct housing support, and non prescription medication and refreshments. Children's Aid Society receives $5000 for its annual children's camp program.

Christmas Cheer: $4000 annually for Christmas hampers. Epilepsy Foundation: $2500 for two new computers and software. Barrie Food Bank: $5000 for fresh meat for their new walk-in cooler. Very exciting.

Mothercare: $4000 for cost of milk, prenatal vitamins and health education for young moms at risk. There's already a cement pad poured at Hospice Simcoe for a beautiful new gazebo for residents and families. Labour is being donated, Napoleon is donating heat and the project is still looking for lumber.

Seasons Centre: $5000 for sofas and books for children. Challenged children receive $3700 through Simcoe Community Services for their campership program. Youth Haven uses their $5000 gift for transportation for youth at risk who are trying to get back to school or job hunt.

Samaritan House: $5000 for health snacks, medications and medical equipment for its after school program. And, in very practical terms, May Court has developed a program where bins of donated household items are assembled so a person can move to an apartment or rooming house with a container of practical items... frying pan, pots, dishes, glasses, silverware, teatowels, linen etc. Called It's a Start, these bins have garnered huge gratitude from recipients.

May Court cares a great deal about children. They've just given $5000 so two young people could fulfill their college and university education. The Club has also given 10 students each $2000 scholarships for education. What great investments!

And for kids at the elementary and secondary school level, May Court has, for years, delivered nutritional breakfasts for young people. Last year the club spent over $7000 in this direction.

May Court meets lots of individual needs, too. They work with social workers to help women, children, and men.  Gifts include things like handle bars in the shower, specialized wheel chairs, medical appliances, dental work.

Doesn't this sound like an organization this city can't do without? I think so. And with only 134 members, it's easy to see that May Court is a great place to spend some volunteer time. I suspect members receive much more than they give, but what would this community do without them? You can check further at www.maycourtclubbarrie.org

Thanks, May Court. Thanks to every one of you!

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