New Website Coming This Fall!

We apologize for the current layout of our current website however, we are in the process of updating and upgrading our website with a plan to launch this fall!  In the meantime, call or email us so we can answer any questions that you may have.  Thank you.

Thank You, Exhibitors

As we look back on this year’s 1000 Islands Wine & Food Festival, we want to take this opportunity to thank our exhibitors.  You have all made this festival an absolute delight for our guests, and we are happy to have had the opportunity to work with you.

The Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau Welcomes New Centre Manager – Harold Hess

The Board, staff and volunteers of the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau are pleased to announce that Harold Hess has been appointed the new Centre Manager and will commence his duties on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014. Mr. Hess is a well-respected community capacity builder and a tireless volunteer bringing a wealth of experience, his influential leadership style and impactful vision to the Centre.

Mr. Hess is a self-described ‘proactive promoter of volunteerism’ who has well established relationships throughout the community and a true passion for volunteering. A former teacher and principal, Mr. Hess currently sits on a variety of non-profit boards and committees. He is well respected and acclaimed for solution driven collaborative partnership development and his effective productive working style.

Volunteering is alive and thriving in the region with non-profits and community members benefiting from the time and talents of many dedicated volunteers. Winston Churchill said “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Contact the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau to learn how you can give through services, because giving doesn’t have to cost. (613) 345-7000 follow us on FB, twitter @vc_stlr and LinkediIn.


………. to provide an organization of volunteers to respond to health care needs of our area residents by supporting our hospital, providing equipment, funds and services for patient care. 

            If you’ve ever purchased a gift at the Wagon Gift Shop for someone who is hospitalized  then you have contributed to the upkeep of the Brockville General Hospital. If you’ve ever had a cup of coffee and a muffin at the Cafe just beyond the main lobby in the hospital, you have also contributed. You have also come in contact with one of the more than 320 active volunteer members who currently give of their time in order to help patients and visitors alike and contribute to the overall smooth running of the BGH.

            The idea of volunteers at the BGH started back in 1889 when a group of Doctors’ wives, who called themselves the “Women’s Auxiliary”, raised funds to help pay off a hospital debt. In 1901 volunteers became responsible for the hospital’s linens. They didn’t just fold the linens; they bought the fabric, cut it out and sewed it into sheets and pillowcases and all the other linen needed by the hospital. By 1930, the Auxiliary had raised funds to help furnish new quarters for the nurses and installed up-to-date bathrooms. They also purchased a quartz lamp, a diathermy machine and assisted the hospital board in paying off a $12,000 overdraft.

            Since the Wagon Gift Shop opened in 1955,  the income generated from its sales has helped to fund operating room equipment, the intensive care unit and the out-patients’ department. The sum of $100,000 was donated towards a new hospital building.

            The name of the organization changed from Women’s Auxiliary to Brockville General Hospital Auxiliary in the 1970s and again in 2000 when it became Brockville General Volunteer Association in order to reflect that men were now an integral part of the volunteer system.

            In 1912 there were 63 very active members; today there are approximately 320. Some of the services provided by volunteers that you would see as a visitor include the Cafe, the Information Desk  and the Wagon Gift Shop. If you’re a patient at the hospital you will be in contact with many volunteers as they make refreshments for patients in the Day Surgery Unit; provide refreshments, blankets, etc. in the Emergency Room; provide free hairdressing twice a week; sell Lottery Tickets; distribute used magazines from the Magazine Cart; feed meals to patients who require assistance under the Mealtime Assistant program; deliver iced water and other supplies under Patient Services; assist staff at the Garden St. site with group activities for patients; and mend items such as slings, diapers and knee pads in the Sewing Room. That’s not all they do. If you are in need of Spiritual Care, you’ll meet with a volunteer clergyman, when the Wagon comes around allowing patients to make purchases it will be pushed by a volunteer and there are those who simply Visit Patients to engage in a little conversation.

            There’s quite an array of duties and an equally large array of interests for anyone who is interested in volunteering at the BGH. Cheryl Marshall, Coordinator of Volunteers Services, has worked in the non-profit sector for all of her working life, save for a two year stint in the private sector. It’s something she has always enjoyed doing and loves being in contact with the volunteers who so generously donate their time to give back to their community. Cheryl related a story to me about a wonderful Christmas present that an adult daughter gave to her mother. She wanted to give her mother the ‘gift of time’ and presented her with a certificate saying they would get together once a week and knit hats for the babies in the nursery of the BGH. The mother had taught her daughter how to knit years before and now they would spend their weekly time knitting but for a very good cause.

            There is also a program whereby the hospital will donate wool for knitters who would like to make baby sets to be sold in the Wagon Gift Shop. A worthwhile way to use a much needed skill.

            If you would like to volunteer at the BGH  you can contact Cheryl Marshall by calling 613-345-5649 or by email at I know she would love to hear from you.

Catherine Durnford-Wang, Director – Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau


… an organization committed to providing quality out-of-family home residential and associated support services for people who have an intellectual disability. We believe that individuals we support have a right to live and grow as participating members of their community. We will advocate on their behalf by promoting opportunities to develop and sustain positive social and community relationships.

            Stan plays floor hockey but he wasn’t scoring as many goals as he would have liked. Through BACLA, volunteer Justin took Stan under his wing and together they worked out at the gym. Justin put Stan through his paces, helping him to become stronger and have more stamina; in fact Stan not only bulked up, he also lost twenty pounds in the process. As a result, Stan helped his team to win their regional division floor hockey tournament and is on his way, in February 2012, to Alberta to play in the All Canada Floor Hockey tournament.

            Sarah, who has Cerebral Palsy, was linked with Barb, a volunteer at BACLA since 2004. It is imperative that anyone suffering with Cerebral Palsy exercise. With help from Barb, Sarah was able to do 50 laps of the Olympic sized pool at the YMCA and was awarded a commendation for her amazing feat. Incidentally, Barb was named Volunteer of the Year in 2008.

            Without volunteers these two stories would not be told. There would have been no Justin no Barb. Stan would still be struggling to improve his floor hockey scoring abilities and Sarah would still be struggling with her exercise regime. As Debbie Ryan, Coordinator of Volunteer Services at BACLA, told me when I sat down with her in her office at 6 Glenn Wood Place, volunteers are what enable BACLA to continue helping the people in our community who need it.

            Started in 1983, BACLA has been housing and supporting the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. These disabilities can cause the individuals to have a broad range of physical, emotional and social challenges. In Brockville there are eleven houses scattered around the city and two in Mallorytown servicing a total of  65 clients.  As with all Community Living Associations, there is a waiting list.

             Expenses for this organization run high due to the need for skilled, professional, full-time care-givers. Each of the 14 homes needs to be staffed and some clients require 24 hour assistance. With a staff of 144, compared with 45 volunteers, it’s easy to see why fund-raising is an on-going endeavour at BACLA. Fund-raising and funding from the Provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services is what BACLA relies on in order to help the people who rely on them.

            A  Snoezlen Room, funded by the Trillium Foundation, was installed at one of the local houses. Below is an excerpt from the SNOEZELEN website that better explains what this amazing equipment does much better than I could.

A SNOEZELEN MSE incorporates a specialized selection of sensory equipment and materials that may help clients adapt their responses to sensory stimulation and to advance education and therapy goals. Each SNOEZELEN MSE is tailored to meet the needs of specific populations according to age and ability. The blend of sights, sounds, textures, aromas, and motion provide stimulation of the primary sensory systems and may be modified to meet each participant’s sensory needs. 

            In addition to housing their administrative offices, 6 Glenn Wood  Place is a hub for some of the weekly activities that are available for their clients. On Monday evenings there is intense rehearsing for the annual play that BACLA puts on each year. Their current production, Alice In Wonderland, has 13 clients playing the parts as well as making props and scenery. The production takes a year to rehearse and will play on June 1st, 2012 at Wall Street United Church with a charge of $5.00 for admission. Tuesday is reading day, one of the favourites for clients, with six clients taking part in this activity with a volunteer reader.

      During September – April, Wednesday is physical activity with a bowling league of 27 clients at the local bowling alley. Thursday clients head to the Salvation Army for music with volunteers supplying the entertainment.  Also on Thursday, a local business provides computers for  8 clients who want to learn how to e-mail their friends and work a computer in general. Friday, the clients cook in the Salvation Army kitchens and their meals are distributed to three needy families in our area. Not only do they learn a skill they get to give back themselves to the community.

            BACLA encourages their clients to volunteer so that they too can learn what it’s like to help out someone who needs  help. Just because someone needs assistance in one way doesn’t mean they can’t give assistance in another way.  The BACLA clients sort jewellery for the Salvation Army as well as assist with their Christmas letter campaign.

      Co-ordinator of Volunteer Services, Debbie Ryan is a long time employee of the association and has worked in many positions. However Coordinator of Volunteer Service is a position that Debbie likes the best.  They are always in need of volunteers who have a few hours a week to give to the clients of BACLA.  If you would like more information about this organization or would like to volunteer your services please contact Debbie Ryan, 613-342-2953, x113, or .  You may also want to check out their website:  It’s a great organization and they could use your help.

Catherine Durnford-Wang, Director – Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau


….to offer a variety of quality musical experiences for all ages, through concerts and educational programs, thereby expanding community participation and appreciation of musical excellence.

            On May 13th, 2011, 400 local children aged between 6 and 12, together with their teachers, attended a free concert that was sponsored by the Brockville Concert Association. What they saw was a rendition of Peter and the Wolf performed by Jeunesses Musicales of Canada (Montreal Chapter). Jeunesses Musicales is a non-profit arts organization that fosters the careers of outstanding young professional musicians at home and abroad. It also promotes the development of the arts in Canada by bringing fine classical music to audiences of all ages. The story of  Peter and the Wolf was especially written for children by Russian composer Prokofiev to cultivate a love and understanding of music from the first days of school.  If the intent was to foster a love of music then according to Anne Dawson, a volunteer with the Brockville Concert Association, it was a huge success. The children were enraptured with what was taking place on the stage before them. As the performers explained their instruments that were playing the part of the wolf, the duck, of Peter, all eyes were front. “As classical music becomes less and less popular, the younger people today are unfamiliar with it and are not keen to pursue it. They don’t know what to expect. But even their teachers were enthralled.”

            As we hear more and more the lament that music is being phased out of our school system, Anne Dawson hopes that the BCA will be in a position to invite another 400 kids and their teachers to be in the audience of yet another production that will show children what music is all about.

There’s also the classical concert that will take place the last Sunday afternoon in January, February and March of 2012 showcasing an hour of music from 2-3, followed by a tea. Taking place at the Wedgewood Retirement Home on King Street East, this series of concerts is free to the residents of the Wedgewood. Due to seating restrictions, only 50 tickets will be made available at a small charge to the general public.

            A possible outside jazz concert is being planned to take place during the annual Brockville Downtown Sidewalk Sale as well as “Jazz at the Market” in the spring, free to passers by.

            Relying solely on volunteers to keep the Brockville Concert Association going and, of course, on donations from the public, makes it difficult to ensure that another such free concert for our local kids or continuing the free to residents concerts at Wedgewood will be possible. Anne Dawson hopes it will.

            Celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2012, the Brockville Concert Association has had a long and interesting metamorphoses. The original BCA was actually affiliated with Columbia Records, was a one week only venue of volunteers to sell tickets for an annual series of classical music and was used to promote artists who recorded under the Columbia label.  Not too many years after its inception a private individual replaced Columbia to provide artists  but very quickly the volunteers, who were the mainstay of the organization, became its overseers. Being completely volunteer driven and without the restrictions that had been imposed on the association previously the volunteers had much more scope for dates of concerts,  the artists they brought to Brockville and the fees that were paid. And so the Brockville Concert Association, as we know it today, began.

            Over the years such greats as Andre Laplante, Marina Svetlona, the Winnipeg Ballet, the Ottawa Philharmonic and the National Ballet of Canada have entertained the citizens of Brockville. Anna Russell, an opera singer who didn’t enjoy the notoriety that she desired, turned her talents to comedy and  in the style of Victor Borge showed the light side of opera. French Canadian baritone Louis Quilico, flutist Jean Pierre Rampal, Gryphon Trio and Glenn Gould have also performed at the Arts Centre.

            For many years the BCA was the only game in town when it came to entertainment, especially live entertainment. Classical music was still the mainstay but  in 1988 the BCA branched out to encompass some jazz. Over the years the committees, in harmony with the Opera Guild, helped each other out and through their combined efforts managed to have the Arts Centre renovated.

            With the popularity that the odd jazz concert was gaining it was decided in  2000 to organize a festival devoted solely to jazz and so the first Jazz Festival was launched. Now, twelve years later, it’s still going strong. The BCA schedule runs for most of the year when Brockvillians are treated to lighter, intimate classical concerts at the Wedgewood in January, February and March,  classical entertainment in the fall and in the spring the Jazz Festival with entertainment being spread throughout the city at such venues as Tait’s Bakery and the Green Door B&B. Peter Appleyard, The Climax Jazz Band, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Oliver Jones Trio, John Pizzaarelli and Michael Kaeshammer are some of the noteworthy jazz greats who have played here.

            Continuing the great tradition of the Brockville Concert Association depends upon its volunteers. Not just the wonderful entertainment we are treated to here in Brockville but also the free to residents music at the Wedgewood, exposing our children to a world of music they may never have know about depend upon volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering with the Brockville Concert Association please contact Anne Dawson at .

Catherine Durnford-Wang, Director – Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau

YMCA of Brockville and Area

…is a charity dedicated to helping individuals grow in spirit, mind and body, and in service to others in an environment that is open to all.


     Siobhan Scott Brodowski had been a shut-in for over three years, recuperating from injuries resulting from a bad car accident. She was in a new town, away from her family and friends, and as if that wasn’t enough, as a result of her injuries she suffered constantly from Fibromyalgia. One day she decided enough was enough and grabbed up the courage to walk to the YMCA on Park Street. The cheerful face on the other side of the reception desk asked Siobhan if there was something she could do for her. The words “Are you in need of volunteers…” were barely out of her mouth when Anna Hudson, Manager Association Services, who had been standing nearby, whisked Siobhan to her office where they talked about how Siobhan could help out at the Y.

     For Siobhan it was the beginning of a wonderful experience that helped her to gain back her physical and mental strengths and build up her lagging confidence. When first she started volunteering Siobhan was unable to stand for more than 20 minutes at a time and she recalls how fellow volunteers would simply slide a chair towards her when they felt she was becoming unsteady and told her often, “We’re really glad you’re here.”

     As time progressed Siobhan, who had secretly been taking a gym bag to the Y but leaving it in her car, was talked into taking an Aqua fit class. From her position at the reception desk she often watched with interest that class. A fellow volunteer, who was now a friend, talked Siobhan into joining. The first time she slipped into the pool she loved it. As a result, Siobhan has lost about 20 lbs or 9 kilos, feels better than she has in years and while still medicated for the constant pain, is now taking classes that will allow her to be an Aqua fit instructor. I believe this is what we call a ‘success story’.

     Anna Hudson, who I interviewed for this story, Manager Association Services, tells me this is just one of many, many stories of people who have benefitted from being a volunteer at the Y. There are approximately 350 volunteers, people who donate their time and skills, making a difference and contributing to the betterment of our community. The volunteers range in age from 10 to 87. There are so many programs offered by the Y and encompassing so many facets it’s difficult to pick which ones to highlight here. We all know about the aerobics, the work-out facilities, the olympic sized swimming pool, the squash courts and the tennis courts and the personal trainers who will help us get in better shape but there is so much more than that.

     For instance there is a licensed day care facility to help working parents ensure their little ones are in good hands; different from the baby-sitting service offered while the adults do their work-outs. It was heartening to hear that the Y also has a fund raiser for six weeks in May and June each year (Annual Giving Campaign: The Power of Giving) to raise funds so they can supplement low income families who simply can’t afford to send a child to camp or to join the Y but wish to.

     In conjunction with the local school boards grade three children are brought to the Y to learn Swim to Survive skills. Swim to Survive is a program that teaches children not how to swim but how to survive and not panic should they fall into some water.

     This is a far cry from the original idea of a YMCA spawned in 1840s London, England by George Williams. Williams, a young clerk, saw young men from farming communities moving to the big cities in search of work and felt they would fall prey to vices such as drinking and other sinful behaviours. He invited some male friends to meet for Bible study and Christian fellowship. The idea caught on and became known as the Young Men’s Christian Association. Within ten years his idea spread to Europe and North America; the first North American Y was founded in Montreal in 1851. The YMCAs in Canada initiated night school, camping and developed leadership programs.

     Our local Y celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2010 and has gone through many changes and locations. There was even a point when it looked as if the Y would not flourish in Brockville but since its charter in 1959 has steadily grown.

     Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization. They have been since its inception and will continue to be essential to the work that our local Y does for Brockville. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Anna Hudson at or by telephone at 613-342-7961 x 30. Anna, incidentally, started out as a volunteer over 19 years ago and because of her belief in the mission of the YMCA is now a member of staff.

Catherine Durnford-Wang, Director – Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau


Exists in order:  to create and preserve pools of money, called endowments, that will last and generate income “forever”; to distribute that income to local (in our case ‘local’ is Leeds and Grenville) charities according to the needs of the day; to promote sharing and generosity in our community.


            When I spoke with Don and Virginia Glover, two long-time volunteers of the Brockville and Area Community Foundation, they were both enthusiastic and extremely respectful of the organization with which they have aligned themselves.

            Many of us living in the area have heard of this foundation but may be confused as to its role or what exactly it does. It gets a lot of publicity in local papers and we see pictures of various people at well-heeled galas or hosting golf tournaments around Leeds and Grenville. The fund raising is on-going and that’s mostly what we, the public, know of the foundation.

            There’s lots more to it and Don and Virginia were eager to enlighten me so that I could, in turn, pass this new found knowledge on to you by way of this blog.

            The BACF, as Don explained, focuses on the future by creating and preserving pools of money, called endowments, that will last and generate income “forever”.   The BACF focuses on the future, whether that future is one year or fifty years away.

            The foundation builds endowment funds of various kinds. Some are set up for the exclusive benefit of the fund holder – the Y, the Brockville Library, or the Brockville and District Agency for Community Involvement, for instance. In such cases, the Foundation manages the funds on behalf of the fund holder and distributes income to the fund-holder. Another such fund is the HOPE Fund which yields income that is distributed to assist local people with the cost of travelling associated with medical treatments. And, the City of Brockville Legacy Endowment Fund is restricted for use by the City to fund some of the community projects which apply to the City for funding.

            Unlike such restricted funds as these, however, is the BACF’s core fund, called the “Community Fund”. Contributions to the Community Fund are un-restricted; today’s contributions, large and small, will generate income that will be disbursed by tomorrow’s citizens according to tomorrow’s needs.

            Whether from restricted or from un-restricted funds, disbursements are strictly from investment income and not from capital. In fact, the capital must increase as the cost of living increases. BACF currently holds ten endowed funds.

            The foundation periodically calls for applications for grants. A committee of volunteers reviews the applications and makes decisions on which applications are to be funded. The foundation tends to favour grants that will impact a community, are low budgeted and are supported mainly by volunteers. St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Caintown was in need of major repairs and submitted an application. Because the church had a kitchen and other amenities it was more than a place of worship,  it was a hub for the small community, also being used as a meeting hall. Needed repairs were to be done by tradesmen who were willing to volunteer their time and skills in order to give back to their small community.

            A need existed for an off-leash park in our area; a place where dog owners could allow their dogs to socialize and play with other dogs safely in an area dedicated to them. The foundation granted the funds needed to erect the chain link fence that surrounds the park and the Barkville Off-Leash Dog Park became a reality. In the past decade the BACF has disbursed grants to ninety charities. The Off-Leash Dog Park and St. Paul’s Church are but two examples of how the BACF positively impacts our community.

            The BACF hires paid staff when funding is available; however, the managing Board and Committee members are all volunteers. Whether it’s for a short-term project or a long-term position with the foundation the foundation is ALWAYS in need of and looking for volunteers. If you would like to receive more information on how you can be a part of this organization, send an email to (the foundation) OR on this web-site (Volunteer Centre ) click on How to Volunteer and then click on the county in which you wish to volunteer.

Catherine Durnford-Wang, Director – Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau


We commit to the young people of Leeds and Grenville that we will be leaders in providing them with the highest quality, volunteer based mentoring programs.

Jack, a 13 year old boy, lives with his divorced mother. His father hasn’t been around since Jack was about four years old. A lonely boy, the target of bullying Jack suffered from self-esteem issues. Jack thought people were making fun of him and often mis-interpreted their intentions. One day Jack approached his mother and requested a Big Brother. It’s not certain how Jack knew there was a resource like that available to him but luckily he did. Jack was registered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Leeds & Grenville and very quickly his Big Brother was found.
In a letter written to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters agency, Jack’s mother described his relationship with his Big Brother, Matt. She writes that Matt has had such a positive impact on her son that Jack now has more self-confidence and his attitude is much more open-minded than it was pre-Matt.
For instance, Jack decided he needed more pocket money. Together with Matt they sat down and formulated a plan that Jack would get a paper route. It was decided that Jack would spend his first pay cheque any way he wished; after that he would begin to save his hard earned money. Matt’s participation didn’t stop there. Since it’s a weekly paper Matt and Jack deliver the papers together which will be a big help to Jack when the snow starts to fly. Matt is also helping Jack with an exercise programme so that Jack, who thinks he is too skinny, can bulk up.
This is only one of many, many success stories that I heard today when I spoke with Jane Fullarton, Executive Director, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Leeds and Grenville. Like most of us, I had a basic knowledge of that agency but it’s bigger and much, much better than just a few adults spending some time with a few kids.
As Jane explained, there are 293 local kids who benefit in one way or another from Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Forty-eight ‘littles’ have been ‘matched’ with a ‘big’, sixty are on the waiting list, the rest are in the school mentoring programme.
Volunteers who wish to be a ‘big’ have to commit to 2-4 hours per week to spend with their ‘little’. As Jane explained, it’s all about relationships. It doesn’t matter how they spend their time, what’s important is that they do spend the time together. In addition to the one on one time with their big, the agency plans one outing each month, including the kids who are still waiting for their volunteer big. Some of the outings have included tubing at Calabogie, a tour of Fort Henry in Kingston and the Biodome in Montreal.
There’s also an activity night each month, again with all 293 littles participating. Board games, crafts, sports and, just recently, pumpkin carving was on the agenda.
The school mentoring programme sees a little being mentored for an hour a week at school. Requested by the teacher, with permission from the parent/s, of course, the time spent could be doing anything. Very rarely is it school work. One child spends his hour building model planes; some go to the school kitchen and bake muffins or go to the gym and hang out. Teachers report they see a marked difference in the behaviour of the child when he or she has these interactions with the mentor.
Don’t feel you can make a 2-4 hours a week commitment? The Big for a Day programme may appeal to you. Exactly as its name suggests, you may be called upon to spend some time with a little but just for the day or for a special occasion.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear that most of the kids in the programme are there at the request of their parent/s. Most of the kids are from one-parent families and a male or female role model is missing from this child’s life. Some of the children come from a family that has some internal issues that make it difficult to spend as much time with the child as the parent or parents think is needed. Whatever the case may be, Big Brothers, Big Sisters is a wonderful organization making a vast difference in the lives of many of our children whose lives may, otherwise, turn out differently.
If you would like more information about Big Brothers, Big Sisters, whether to volunteer or to inquire how they can benefit your child, call Jane Fullarton, 613-345-0281, e-mail visit the website at Big Brothers, Big Sisters is located at 36 George Street, Lower Level, Brockville, On. K6V 3V5. There is a brand new office located in Kemptville which opened in April of 2011 and services 67 children.

Catherine Durnford-Wang, Director – Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau