(A plaque presentation took place on June 7, 2021 to thank Wellings of Stittsville for their support of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. L to R: Marc Bourbonniere, Patricia Struble, June Wedd, Lion Marilyn Southall, Lion Ron Armstrong, Lion President Don Zogalo and Darcy MacLennan. Missing from the photo is Ross Moore. Photos: Stittsville Central)
On June 25, 2020, Wellings of Stittsville began a partnership with the Stittsville Lions to raise money for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. This partnership was formed when a phone call from Patricia Struble, a member of the retirement community who resides at Wellings, wanted to help support the Dog Guides Program. Patricia wanted to raise funds for those needing the services of a dog guide and suggested a weekly bottle drive – would the Stittsville Lions be interested?
Patricia met with the Lions and explained her personal connection to dog guides. Patricia told the Lions, “I have a family member who is blind and relies on the services of a dog guide.” A cause close to Patricia’s heart, she “knew the wonderful companionship the dog meant to her family member.” At the meeting, it was decided that the Stittsville Lions would partner with Wellings for the bottle drive project. All monies raised would be donated to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.
Patricia with the help of June Wedd would have the bottles organized and tallied for the refund. From June until mid-December, Lions members Marilyn Southam and Ron Armstrong paid a weekly visit to Wellings to collect the empty bottles and return them to the Kanata Beer Store for the refund. When the lockdown occurred in December, Patricia carried on and Wellings residents, Marc Bourbonniere and Ross Moore, stepped in to join her team by returning the bottles to the Kanata Beer Store.
For the months of August through to the end of October, Stittsville Lions members Beth and Bob Lewis, Lesley McKay and Marilyn Southall could be found every second Thursday evening, collecting further bottles to add donations to the Dog Guides Program.
Hazeldean Gardens, another Stittsville retirement home, contacted the Stittsville Lions to also collect their empty bottles. Beth and Bob Lewis would pick-up the bottles at Hazeldean Gardens. “This meant we could provide so much more to the Dog Guides Program,” said Marilyn Southall.
The partnership has proved to be a success! From June until December 2020, Wellings of Stittsville had donated $4006. In the fall, it had been announced to all Lions Clubs that Dr. Don Hilton and his wife Joyce of British Columbia, would match all donations being made to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides Program in Oakville, Ontario by the end of the year. That meant $8,012. would be contributed to the Dog Guide Program from Wellings!
With the donations coming in from Wellings, Hazeldean Gardens and the Lions bottle drives, $10,000 has been donated to the Dog Guides Program. And, the partnership between the Stittsville Lions and Wellings continues as the bottle drives will take place well into 2021.
A plaque was presented to Wellings of Stittsville on June 7, 2021, in recognition and appreciation of their dedication and contribution to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides Program. Marilyn Southall said when making the presentation, “each dog guide costs approximately $25,000 to raise, train and place with its new handler. Yet it is provided at no cost. This is what we have been working on for the past year – being able to provide a dedicated and trained companion in someone’s life, while giving the priceless gift of safety, mobility and independence to the recipient.”
“The full cooperation of this team effort made this project the success that it was and is so meaningful for all of the Stittsville Lions,” added Marilyn. “To know what we were working towards – providing a better way of life for someone in need – felt good.”
Don Zogalo, President of Stittsville Lions, told the group of the importance of the Dog Guides Program. “The partnership with Wellings will help so many Canadians who need the assistance of a dog guide to enable them to live their daily lives.”
Darcy MacLennan, General Manager at Wellings said at the presentation, “Wellings was pleased to have participated in such a worthwhile project in collaboration with the Lions. The hardest part for me was emptying the bottles!” The plaque will be hung in a place of honour at the front entrance reception desk.
Marilyn told Stittsville Central, “if it had not been for that initial phone call from Patricia wanting to know if the Lions were interested in a weekly bottle drive, the incredible amount donated to the Lions Foundation of Canada for Dog Guides could not have been achieved and we are gratefully thankful to Patricia.”
At a cost of $25,000 to raise, train and place each of the dog guides, the Lions Foundation relies only on donations and receives no government funding towards the program. The Foundation provides the dog guides at no cost to Canadians with a medical or physical disability. Now the largest school of its kind in Canada, Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides is located in Oakville and has a breeding and training facility in Breslau, Ontario.