Speaker Introduction:  Jim Rymerson, who coordinates our club’s Easter Seals drive, introduced Becky Pero, who is the Development Officer for Easter Seals of Eastern Ontario.
Becky has been working for Easter Seals here in Kingston since January, but was also employed by them from 2008 – 2010 before she returned to school.  She attended Queen’s and obtained a M.A and a PhD there, moving on to work for two years in the Department of Medicine at Queens before coming to Easter Seals.
Everyone should take note of their current fundraiser called Battle of the Wines.  It is basically a raffle for wine, and the winning team of six will receive 168 bottles of wine.  (Ana will be circulating the detailed information about how to sign up and how the game works.)  Deadline to enter is November 27th and the winners will be announced on December 3rd.
Easter Seals will be 100 years old in 2022.  It is a Canadian, USA, and Australian organization.  Ontario has its own chapter, and all money raised here stays here.  Easter Seals assists children and youth who have physical disabilities.  There are two camps, and the one we are most familiar with is Camp Merrywood.  There is another camp in the London area.  These camps employ about 150 staff seasonally.  In order to qualify for Easter Seals support, a child must be under the age of 19, and a resident of Ontario and have a permanent disability that requires a mobility device.  Easter Seals also provides some post secondary educational scholarships.
What used to be the Timmy and Tammy programs is now the Ambassador Program.  Easter Seals also provides resources for parents, and they manage two government funded programs.
They provide equipment funding, offering up to $3,000 per child.  This specialized equipment is very costly and most families would have difficulty affording these things without assistance.  In 2019, 755 requests were funded.  In 2020 there may be as many as 950 requests for things like van ramps, lifts, computers and walkers.  As children grow, they outgrow things and equipment  must be replaced.
At the summer camps, kids feel normal and free because they are among others like themselves.  The same activities that are provided in other camps are provided for the children at the Easter Seals camps…although there was no possibility of camp this summer because of the pandemic.  Attending costs $2,500 and in 2019 there were 744 campers.
Easter Seals is struggling with fundraising this year because most of their traditional events cannot be held.  Still, there are going to be five virtual events this year.
Becky showed us an interesting video which illustrated the kinds of equipment that kids need, and the costs for each.  This may be viewed on You Tube at https://youtu.be/kyyekMnKW7E
There were some questions that Becky answered.  First, there will be 100-year celebrations and a provincial planning committee will be working to create them.  The families own the equipment that Easter Seals helps to fund.  Parents apply for a grant with a quote for what they need.  There is a network through the Child Development Centre at Hotel Dieu Hospital where equipment that children have outgrown may go to another child who needs it. 
Becky also explained where the name Easter Seals came from.  It started as a fundraiser, and supporters received stamp like seals to add to their mail.  It was always a campaign that took place in the spring.  In the beginning the organization was called The Ontario Society for Crippled Children.
Ana reminded us that the Odd Fellows (our usual meeting hosts) provide recovering and refurbishing equipment for various organizations as one of their service projects.
Robert Reid thanked Becky, and her small daughter Isabel who made a few appearances, with our traditional loaf of bread.