A cold walk for the hungry, hurting and homeless



Open Arms Mission will host its second annual Coldest Night of the Year walk at the end of the month.

The walk held across Canada is hosted by and to benefit a local community-based charity.

“Coldest Night of the Year is a wonderful walk that is nationwide and it is to address the hungry, the hurting and the homeless across Canada,” said Jeff Aitken, pastor and mission centre manager.

The walk will feature two-, five- and 10-kilometre-long courses. Aitken said the best part of the walk — on top of raising much needed money — is that people walk alongside the clients of Open Arms Mission.

“It’s also a place where they can actually rub elbows, understand their needs, understand what it’s like,” Aitken said. “It helps people to instead of having sympathy to now have a sense of empathy.

“It goes from a ‘me’ and ‘them’ to a ‘we.’”

The walk takes place Saturday, Feb. 20, and will start and finish at Welland Community Wellness Complex on Lincoln Street. Registration starts at 4 p.m., there will be an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. and the walk will begin at 5:15 p.m.

Aitken said people can register online, at Open Arms Mission or on the day of the event.

“Last year’s numbers just shocked me and this year I think we’re going to have that again,” he said of a high turnout.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.coldestnightoftheyear.org/location/welland.


Source: Welland Tribune


Community rallies around Welland woman hurt in crash


When crash victim Sandra Douglas leaves medical care and returns to her Welland home, she’ll find immaculate gardens having been lovingly tended to by friends and family.

The 40-year-old continues to recover at Shaver Hotel Dieu Rehab Centre in St. Catharines following a harrowing May 28 hit-and-run at Southworth St. and Ontario Rd. that left her with injuries that included a broken collarbone, two broken ribs and a punctured lung, and three fractured vertebrae. She is still being monitored for brain injury.

A 57-year-old Welland man is charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm and fail to stop at the scene of an accident.

Douglas lost her dogs in the four-vehicle crash, when the rear of her 2003 Toyota Echo was crumpled like an accordion. Both dogs were about six years old: Syressa, a border collie terrier mix, and Sasha, a great Pyrenees. Both were rescue dogs.

Just blocks from home, she had been on her way to the canal to walk her faithful canines.

It’s a tragic tale that weighs heavily on the minds of Douglas’s close-knit co-workers at Community Living St. Catharines’ Northwood House group home for adults with disabilities.

Paula Whittaker, who has worked with Douglas for several years, decided to rally family and friends for a garden makeover at the Bradley Ave. home Douglas moved into in March 2014 with partner Jack Musiala.

A memorial spot for Douglas’s dogs was created among the greenery.

“When something like this happens, you’re desperate for ways to help, Whittaker said Friday among a busy crew of volunteers that pulled metre-tall weeds among shrubbery and perennials, and cultivated a small plot of vegetables.

The garden reno, Whittaker said, “seemed like a good idea.”

“Sandra loves her gardens, she loves being outside.”

Also pitching in were Duncan’s children, Sydney, 8, and Evan, 17, and stepson Aiden, 11.

“When she gets back, she can relax,” Aiden said.

Stacy Maguire is hoping her older sister will be able to return home within the next week. Douglas was airlifted to Hamilton hospital after the crash, was returned to Welland hospital, and since June 15 has been recuperating at Shaver.

“This was supposed to be her summer project,” Maguire said of the gardens while choking back an impulse to cry. “Obviously, she can’t do it, so we’re here.”

Plants and mulch were donated to the friendly effort by Vermeer’s Garden Centre and Flower Shop and Botanix Rice Road Greenhouses.

Friends have also been supporting Douglas and her family through an online fundraising campaign at GoFundMe: “Help for Sandra and her Family.” Its goal of raising $5,000 to help offset expenses while she heals, including to afford child care, has already been broken.

But that’s not where the support ends.

Moved by Douglas’s tragedy, Welland and District Humane Society donated to her another rescue dog. The eight-month-old golden retriever shepherd mix is named Sylas, his name a nod to Syressa.

Article from Welland Tribune.

Introducing the new Strive Niagara facility

The Many Hands Project Reveal Day will be a carnival inspired community event, signalling the completion of the renovation to Strive Niagara. Everyone that contributed to the project will have the opportunity to view the success of the project and see where their generous contributions went. We encourage everyone to come out and see the positive change that the project will bring to the communities of Niagara.

It is a family friendly event that will include:

  • A variety of fun carnival games for all ages
  • Photo booth with props and picture cutout stands
  • Face painting
  • Magician
  • Delicious refreshments
  • Yummy food including pizza and popcorn
  • Exciting tours led by the Event Management Students of Strive’s new renovations

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Strive Niagara is located in Welland, and is a non-profit, social service organization that promotes education, support and puts families first. Strive Niagara is dedicated to assisting those in need and fostering the independence of young families who are pursuing an education by providing quality childcare and other necessary supports. This amazing organization is a very valuable asset to the Welland community and the greater Niagara region.

Welland teen creates SUP fundraiser for friends

An incredible story from a Welland teen, reprinted from the source, http://niagara.sportsxpress.ca/featured/welland-teen-creates-sup-fundraiser-for-friends/


My name is Madeline Leblanc, and I am here to tell you the story of a personal fundraiser I created at age 17 in honour of two friends I lost to cancer. Ever since I was ten I had always wanted a stand up paddleboard. I got to try it out once on Lake Huron and fell in love. As I continued saving years passed, and in 2011 I lost two friends of mine due to cancer. On March 13th Lynn Lambert who was a high school teacher at Centennial and also my next-door neighbor passed away at 37.  Julia Turner was 15 years old when she passed from a brain tumor on December 23rd that same year. Julia went to my high school Notre Dame, and I got to know her through my grade nine-drama class.

Ever since their passing I wanted to do something to honour their wonderful lives. They both taught not only me but also all of Welland to treasure every moment of your life, and dedicate yourself to helping others when you can. They were amazing role models and deserve to be remembered. Finally in 2012 my family and I had enough money to buy a SUP board, and got it on Christmas morning that year. It was the best surprise ever! I began to take my board out frequently to the Welland Canal and have enjoyed paddling ever since. One summer day in 2013 when I was paddling, the idea of creating a SUP fundraiser just popped into my head. I started thinking about how I could turn this dream into reality. In February of 2014 I called the City of Welland Mayors Office, and spoke with Barry Sharpe about my idea of paddling 10km down the Welland Canal to raise funds for brain cancer research in honour of Julia and Lynn. He said it was an amazing idea, and from there I spoke with the Welland Recreational Canal Corp. to get the fundraiser up and running. I decided to call it ‘On Board’ because so many people were on board with my idea.

Now that On Board was official I started getting sponsors, creating t-shirts and spreading the word all around Welland about my fundraiser. My friends and family were truly remarkable and supported me the whole time. On Thursday July 10th 2014 I paddled 10km down the Welland Canal and raised over $4000 for brain cancer research with the Canadian Cancer Society. It was a fun filled day with free SUP demos hosted by Ausmosis Board Works (one of my sponsors) and over 100 people who came and waited for me at the end of the canal to come watch me finish. The atmosphere was indescribable, because I could not believe all of the people who came to support my ride, but also to celebrate the lives of Julia and Lynn. When they passed I never got a chance to say goodbye, and On Board for me felt like the perfect way to say just that.

With such a successful year I have decided to host On Board again this summer on Thursday July 23rd 2015. The event will be similar to last year, however I am inviting anyone who would like to come out and paddle with me 10km down the Welland Canal in honour of Julia and Lynn. My returning sponsors are Ausmosis Board Works, Impact Promotions Niagara, and Miss Dars School of Dance. My new sponsors are Surf the Greats, Proteus Clothing Co., Vesuvius Canada and Brailey&Chambers Bookkeeping Services. I am looking forward to another fun day of paddling and I hope you can join me!


Photo by Anthony Gallaccio