Showing they care
The committee members and winning presenters gathered for a cheerful photo after the 100 Men of South Dundas event on Nov. 6 in Morrisburg.      Courtesy Duncan photo

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
MORRISBURG — On Nov. 6, the first event for the 100 Men of South Dundas raised $15,200 that was divided between two local organizations. Mark Lewis, a member of the organizing committee said the group started forming after the Canada Day celebration in Morrisburg. While Lewis said he had been thinking of the idea ever since the women’s group began years ago, it was Wally Baker who said the idea out loud to a receptive group. From there, the 100 Men of South Dundas committee grew organically with some help from Janeen Wagemans of the 100 Women of South Dundas who provided names of people willing to help.

The committee launched the website in August and had 100 men register by the end of September. In October, the registrants took off getting up to 120 before the event. Unfortunately, not all who registered were able to attend, but that didn’t stop the numbers from growing up to 152 on the night of as more men joined the party right at the doors of the legion.

With 152 men attending the event, the group was able to raise $15,200 and donate it to the two winning charities within a couple of hours. Thanks to the generosity of the Morrisburg Legion for donating their hall and Valu-Mart and the McIntosh Inn for providing some snacks, the event was cost free. “It all went very quickly and well,” said Lewis. “We even had some snacks leftover that we donated to the legion.”

On the night of, 12 different charities and organizations attended the event to pitch their projects in the hopes of receiving the funds. Remaining true to the 100 tradition, each presenter was given three minutes to appeal to the crowd. Afterwards, the votes were tallied and the winners were announced.

In first place, the Canadian Cancer Society and the SDG Wheels of Hope program were awarded with $5,200 and in second place, the Seaway District High School was awarded $10,000 for their Learning Commons Room/Library.

Project applicant and Canadian Cancer Society fundraising specialist Allison St. Jean was the presenter for the Wheels of Hope program. She explained that she got involved through Eric Duncan, committee member of the North Dundas 100 Men.

Wheels of Hope is a volunteer service that provides cancer patients with rides to and from their appointments when family and friends aren’t available to help out. While the program has many wonderful volunteers, St. Jean recognized that there are significant gaps in the South Dundas area where there is only one volunteer driver, yet there were 176 trips to cancer related appointments last year. “It was the perfect place to make the pitch,” said St. Jean.

Without local drivers, there are added costs to bring in drivers from the surrounding areas, especially Cornwall. With the funds, St. Jean said the program can grow awareness to recruit more drivers in SDG and help cover the costs of the program; those costs include mileage and parking, rigorous training and background checks for the drivers.

One of the best parts of the evening, aside from winning St. Jean said, was leaving with a few volunteer drivers. “The message really resonated with people,” she said. “I am extremely grateful and it was incredible to see that two groups were successful.”

The second successful group was Seaway District High School. SDHS council co-chairperson Sandra Cummins explained that the project for upgrading the Learning Commons Room came about during the October council meeting. Upgrades to the room were visibly needed but also Cummins explained that during the last few years, the school’s results during literacy testing were declining to a record low this year of 52 per cent. “If more students had access to current reading materials such as books, newspapers and magazines, they would be better equipped at reading and writing assignments,” said Cummins. “Our current library’s resources are definitely not supporting the 403 students that attend Seaway.”

It was council member Lisa Casselman who suggested 100 Men of South Dundas. The council put together a proposal featuring the current room as well as the goals for the future. The display and presentation, clearly worked.

The room will have updated literature and seating areas, as well as new technology. It will also act as a place for overflowing classrooms to access for much needed work space.

“It feels so amazing to have been chosen!” said Cummins. “The experience was nerve wracking, exciting and incredibly humbling. The fact that these gentlemen came together not only to help a cause but to learn about the different causes in our community is so commendable.”

The council must still meet to determine how to begin the project and work is still necessary to raise the remaining $20,000 of the expected $30,000, Cummins said they are hoping to be finished by December 2019.

The 100 Men of South Dundas have made a significant impact on two local organizations and it was all in one night. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Lewis after the event. “There is no place better than South Dundas. This community is amazing to me.”

Lewis said 100 Men North Dundas committee member Eric Duncan was a “huge help and came in with great wisdom.” Lewis said Duncan provided the committee with insight into what worked and what did not from the recent North Dundas event. Lewis also recognized the hard work from committee and volunteer members, Jack Barkley, John Gleed, Perry Scott, Jim Millard, Wally Baker, Chuck Irine and Scott Corden.

“Let’s make it even bigger next year!” Lewis concluded.