Maze proves that navigating poverty is no easy task
by Roger Varley
A number of people taking part in the Uxbridge Poverty Coalition’s “poverty maze” at St. Paul’s Anglican Church last Wednesday found themselves frustrated at the end of the exercise – and that’s just what the organizers wanted.
As one of the organizers said: “It was made to make them feel frustrated and angry.”
The exercise did not involve a traditional maze. The “maze” referred to the number of agencies people in need have to navigate in order to resolve their crises and how it can take a lot of dead ends and wrong turns before finding one’s way out.
Every participant was given a character with a number of urgent problems and told to resolve those issues the best way they could. Around the church hall were a number of tables manned by people from such organizations as North House, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Cam’s Kids Foundation, Canadian Mental Health Association, Community Care and others.
One participant’s character was a mother of two girls aged 13 and five. The father had left, the mother was pregnant and confined to bed for the last two months of her pregnancy and her 13-year-old was missing a lot of school. The five-year-old felt lonely. And on top of that, the hydro had been shut off and the mother had to choose between paying hydro or paying the rent.
With all the tables around the room, it was not too difficult to zero in on the services that needed to be approached. In the real world, however, the character would have to start by finding out what help was available and from where. They would also have to physically travel from location to location, not just hop from table to table.
As for frustration, it was fairly easy to see where that came from. At the end of the session, there was still a long lineup at the social services table and many did not get to that table at all.
But participants also learned that some agencies offer more help than they might have thought. For instance, North House could help the mother pay her hydro bill up to $500. Big Brothers/Big Sisters does more than just match children with mentors. Sunrise Pregnancy Centre offers assistance to all pregnant women, not just unwed teenagers. Cam’s Kids could help the 13-year old with its programs for youth.
Among those taking part were a couple of Durham Region police and two members of the library staff. The police were there to understand some of the problems facing those living in poverty and the library was there to learn about inclusiveness.
One outcome of the maze exercise was Rev. Mark Kinghan’s announcement that the church will start a Café 59 program in January, a drop-in centre where lonely people can socialize with others. Café 59 will start at the church on Jan. 13 and will run every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon.
‘Tis the season for annual Toy Drive
The snow has arrived, and with it, the annual community Christmas Toy Drive. The Township is allowing the old fire hall on Bascomb St. to be used as the sortation and distribution centre, and as in the past, the Toy Drive will support many local user groups, including local churches, the schools, the Salvation Army and the local food hamper committee, to name a few.
Visit the Toy Drive website to either request a donation or make a donation. The website is www.uxbridgetoydrive.com
There is always a need for donations for teenagers and infants. A full wish list has been posted on the Toy Drive website. Cash and gift cards are also welcome, as they can help fill any voids the Toy Drive may have.
Organizers would like to have all donations in by Dec. 22, in order to allow time for sorting and distribution in time for Christmas.
Drop points for the Toy Drive are BodyFit, Canadian Tire Uxbridge, McDonald’s, Zehrs and Bruins home games.
Local charity a finalist in national charity donation giveaway
The Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity (JACC), located here in Uxbridge, is one of 10 Canadian respite charities qualified to receive a donation of $125,000 as part of a nationwide philanthropic contest.
Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity’s mission is to improve the quality of life for seriously and chronically ill children and their families by providing financial support. A donation from iA Financial Group would help JACC double the number of respite services available to Ontario families for 2020.
iA Financial Group is calling on Canadians to vote for one of the ten charities that have qualified as finalists to receive the grand prize donation of $125,000 in the third edition of the company’s philanthropic contest.
The public has until November 29 to go to donations-contest.ia.ca and vote for the charities and the projects they consider the most inspiring.
Hundreds of charities working in the health, education and social services sectors that provide respite to the loved ones of persons in need answered iA Financial Group’s call in September and entered the contest. A jury reviewed all projects received from across the country and chose ten finalists, for which you can now vote.
Almost $300,000 will be distributed among the ten finalists, including a donation of $125,000 to the charity that receives the most votes, $50,000 each for second and third place, and $10,000 each for the remaining seven charities. The winners will be announced on December 12.
Police make arrests for regional LCBO thefts
Three Toronto men are facing charges in connection with the theft of multiple bottles of alcohol from the Uxbridge LCBO.
On Monday, Nov. 4, witnesses reported seeing two males enter the store, fill a suitcase and a duffle bag with bottles of alcohol, and leave without paying. After leaving the store, a customer followed their vehicle and relayed their position to Durham Region Police Services.
About 45 minutes later, police stopped the vehicle at Brock Rd. and Dersan St. in Pickering and found three males inside. They also located a suitcase and a duffel bag full of unopened alcohol bottles with a value of approximately $4,000. Officers also located a small quantity of crack cocaine. Two of the males were identified as being involved in several other LCBO thefts in Durham Region.
Maurice Antoine, 48; Ricardo Charleston, 42; and Trevel Provo, 37, all face multiple charges.
Anyone with new information about this investigation is asked to contact Det. Debosky of the West Division Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 2534.
Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or on the website at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca and tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.
Leadership award presented to ‘Mr. Uxbridge’
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
“Say, do you know Joel Speers?”
You might answer that you don’t, but chances are, you do. And if you don’t have the good fortune to know him personally, you have at least seen his face around town, working for the Township or volunteering at any number of events.
Speers was recently awarded the Durham Farm Connections Leadership Award; when it was presented to him by representatives from TD Canada Trust, he was aptly called “Mr. Uxbridge.”
What does he do that gives him such a lofty moniker? He’s an avid 4-H supporter, he’s a Junior Farmer, he works for the roads department for the Township, he volunteers at the Uxbridge Fall Fair (he’s a director on the board), the Farmers of Uxbridge event, Uxbridge-Scott Historical Society events, the Progressive Agriculture Farm Safety Day, during Canada Day celebrations at Elgin Park, the Durham Farm Connections Annual Open House, and any other festivals, fundraisers and church suppers that he has time for.
“I really enjoy supporting local events and working alongside other volunteers. We work hard but we also have a lot of fun, too! It’s great to see people enjoying and learning about agriculture,” explains Speers.
He first got the feel for volunteering when he was just nine, when he joined a local youth action group. In Grade 9 he needed to get a start on accumulating the mandatory 40 volunteer hours, so he started helping with the Uxbridge Fall Fair. He collected his 40 hours – and kept on going.
Because he knows so many people from across so many organizations, Speers is able to connect people who may not otherwise have a connection. As such, he has instigated many success stories for many groups and people, which creates “increased youth involvement and the general advancement of shared goals and overall community betterment.”
Speers is a busy man, but always has a wave and smile when travelling through Uxbridge’s downtown streets and keeping them free of rubbish and debris. He wears the same wave and smile when driving the grounds at the Fair, and when he’s at any of his other events. His kind heart draws people to him, and his warm, caring nature spreads enthusiasm for the task at hand.
Speers has lived on a small farm his entire life, and helped on his grandparent’s farm when he was young. The Durham Farm Connections Leadership Award is perfectly suited to Speers, as it recognizes a young farmer (between 22 and 39 years of age) who has a passion for agriculture and has shown strengths in leadership and community involvement. The award does include a monetary component, but Speers says he “hasn’t decided what I will do with the award money yet. There are a number of opportunities!”
Well-known spa gets makeover at well-known retreat
Local not-for-profits and charities are now being invited to apply for the opportunity to be the recipient of proceeds from the 2020 “uxperience” variety show.
uxperience is an annual production that features local performers volunteering their time to sing, dance, play music or help backstage. Performers are always welcome, especially those who sing!
Since it began 28 years ago, uxperience has donated more than $160,000 to local organizations, including COPE Mental Health Uxbridge, Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, North Durham Hospice, Uxbridge Historical Society, Lucy Maud Montgomery Society, Uxbridge Public Library, Sunrise Pregnancy and Family Support, Canadian Tire Jumpstart, local sports teams, Cam’s Kids, and more recently Uxbridge Creative Connections. All the money that these organizations receive is used in the Uxbridge area.
The annual donation amount depends on how much the show raises through sponsors, ticket sales, fundraising events and raffles. The theme for the 2020 show is “Around the World in 80 Minutes…or so” and the show dates are Thursday, April 30, 2020, through Saturday, May 2, 2020 (four shows).
Organizers are currently looking for deserving local organizations to be considered as recipients of the proceeds. To be considered, groups must be non-profit and create a written proposal describing the organization and how the funds would be used.
Interested groups must apply by Friday, November 15, 2019, and their application should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on uxperience 2020, visit www.uxperience.ca