Ontario Commandery 2021 Update
Covid-19 had a significant impact on the activities undertaken by the Ontario Commandery in 2020. While community gatherings were severely restricted, we continued to provide financial support to front line community organizations serving the Lord‘s sick and poor.
In April we made a $5,000 donation to the Diane Morrison Hospice for homeless people in Ottawa. Due to COVID-19, residents of the hospice could not receive visitors. Our donation was used to acquire tablets that allowed residents to communicate with family members from a distance thus protecting the health and safety of the residents, their families, and the staff of the hospice.
As a commandery, we discussed other critical needs brought on by COVID-19 and its resulting social isolation and revolving lockdowns in our communities. While those in hospice care will continue to receive our help, we recognized there were others in our community that needed our support during the Covid-19 crises. With the rise of domestic violence during Covid, the SOSJ Ontario was pleased to donate $5000 to Armagh House. Armagh House is a facility where women can go to after leaving an abuse “intake center”. It presently has nine small individual condos. The maximum stay at this facility is 2 years. It’s the only facility of its kind in the entire Peel Region and has played an integral part of the success of the women able to reside there while rebuilding their and their children’s lives. In addition, we provided a $5000 grant to Interval House in Ottawa, a residential program for victims of family violence, to assist them in improving their building security and providing day programs for resident women and children.
Not withstanding COVID-19, we recognized the importance of continuing our fundraising efforts and decided to continue with our Fourth Annual Fun Run/Walk for palliative care in Ottawa. This year however we decided to host a virtual run – where people interested in supporting our cause, regardless of where they lived around the world – could enter, run or walk the requisite 5km (either indoors or outdoors, but in a safe circumstance), and receive a medal! All they had to do was email us a photo of themselves at the “finish line“!
For pictures of some of the runners, many of them members of the SOSJ from different Commanderies around the world, visit our Facebook page: Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller, Ontario Commandery.
The run/walk raised only slightly more funds than in 2019 but the number of runners increased by more than 30%! Going virtual was a great way to engage friends and family regardless of where they live! Next year, assuming a safe environment we will have another face-to-face fun run and likely keep the virtual aspect as well!
Photos from 2020 Virtual Fun/Run
Established in January 2015, the Ontario Commandery is committed to serving the Lord’s Sick and Poor by raising funds to support local services that directly impact the health and well-being of citizens. Currently our focus is on palliative and hospice care.
We are a self-funded non-profit corporation. All of our administrative costs are funded through membership dues. Events are run on a cost recovery basis ensuring 100% of the donations received are given to charitable organizations. To date we have raised more than $40,000 and have supported 4 palliative care initiatives.
Our desire, as a Commandery, is to add value to, not duplicate, local service delivery. Our approach is to reach out to existing local charities, discuss with them their needs, and identify how we can best work together to meet these needs.
Using this approach, in 2016, the Ontario Commandery partnered with local charities in Ottawa and Toronto to fund two palliative care initiatives:
1. Ottawa Mission Hospice Renovation
The Diane Morrison Hospice, at The Ottawa Mission, provides 24-hour palliative nursing care to homeless people f acing the final days of their lives. Currently it is the only hospice in North America that provides palliative care specifically to homeless men and women. By providing an alternative to hospital care, it’s estimated the hospice saves the hospital system an estimated $50,000 per person. In 2016, the Mission decided to expand its capacity from 14 to 21 beds. Given the hospice receives no financial support from government, the project could only move ahead with support from the community, including support from the SOSJ Ontario Commandery. The Commandery partnered with the Mission and ‘Barristers for a Better Bytown’, (a charity whose directors and members are lawyers) to fund the renovation of the relocated nursing station.
2. The Good Wishes Project
The SOSJ Ontario Commandery, partnered with the Good Neighbours’ Club and Inner City Health Associates (ICHA), to launch the Good Wishes project, a program designed to meet some of the more personal needs of homeless living in Toronto to help ease their end-of-life. Individuals experiencing homelessness are known to have higher mortality rates than the general population and to die at an earlier age. Their palliative care needs are also high. There may be an absence of close family members or social networks to provide support in a way that respects their personal journey. The goal of THE GOOD WISHES project is to personalize the process of dying and to bring comfort and dignity, during their last days, to those who have lived a difficult life. Some examples of the “wishes” could be a special meal with friends, facilitating a visit by an out of town family member, or a request for a favourite food.
These are two concrete examples of how the SOSJ has made a direct contribution to improving the lives of the Lord’s Sick and Poor in Ontario. And it is our intent to continue to raise funds to support worthwhile community activities.
We know our success is directly dependent on our ability to grow our membership and to raise funds. To that end, we have set membership expansion and increased fund raising as our priorities for 2017. We currently have 10 members and recognize that, to raise more funds, we must grow this membership. If you would like more information about the Commandery, our activities to date or, if you would like to become more active with us, please reach out to us either through this website or via email at: email@example.com
In the meantime, we will continue to reach out and work with community partners across the province to help meet some of the needs of the Lord’s Sick and Poor in Ontario.
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