Totals are still being tallied, but the seventh annual Paddle for Fairvern has raised at least $53,000 for the non-profit nursing home’s new build.
Sixty-one paddlers made their way from Hutcheson Beach to either Hidden Valley Beach, a distance of 15 kilometres, or to a new, shorter destination at the Canada Summit Centre dock, a 5.5-kilometre distance, on Saturday, August 10 in support of Fairvern. There were solo kayakers and tandem canoeists and a flotilla of support boats ensuring they had safe passage. The efforts of all are greatly appreciated, said Fairvern board president, Dana Murdy.
“It’s a community home so the community support is really big,” she said. “Every year it surprises me the number of people that are on the water and the number of people that volunteer on the water, everybody that makes this happen.”
She gave a shout out to Jennifer Jerrett, who spearheaded the event’s fundraising this year. “She has done an amazing job. We topped $30,000 in corporate sponsors which was the first time ever,” said Murdy.
And she gave particular thanks to “everybody that shows up for Fairvern on a daily basis. It’s not just the staff but the volunteers. Nothing works around Huntsville without the volunteers. You can’t physically do a lot of the projects we do around this town without volunteers, and Fairvern volunteers have been around for a long time—it’s a pretty amazing group of women and they don’t get thanked enough.”
Among this year’s paddlers was Robert Seymour. He regularly plays guitar and sings for residents at Fairvern and other local homes, and he was born in the Fairvern building back when it was the Huntsville Hospital. It holds a special place in his heart and each year he sets out to raise funds, aiming to better what he had done the previous year. This year he surprised even himself.
You may have noticed Seymour busking outside, and sometimes inside, places like Canadian Tire, BMO, RBC, Source for Sports, Huntsville Brewhouse, and Trinity United Church this summer. Through that effort alone, he raised more than $5,700. When other donations are added in, his unofficial total is more than $10,200. That brings his seven-year fundraising total to more than $22,000, he said.
His main goal was to double his own total from last year—which he did and then some—and there was also a bit of friendly competition between Seymour and Fairvern staff member Marlene Muller. “I said to Marlene, ‘I’m going to push you this year to get at least $8,000’ because she beat me last year,” said Seymour. Muller was the top fundraiser among Fairvern staff who participated in the paddle.
“I’m so thrilled to be able to do it,” added Seymour.
All of the funds raised—$53,148 as of the morning of the paddle with more still coming in—will go toward building a new home for the residents.
The redevelopment is temporarily on hold while the Fairvern board and staff wait to hear if the home will be allocated more beds. It had been granted 20 more than its current 76, but they are hoping for more to come.
“We could survive [with 96 beds]. but it would be a struggle to survive long term,” said Murdy. “We already have 150 people on the waiting list, so we’re building too small to start with. Mayor Aitchison and District Chair Klinck have had a meeting with the Assistant Deputy Minister [for Long-Term Care Homes], Brian Pollard, and it looks favourable.”
This year’s unofficial Paddle for Fairvern fundraising total, with sponsorships and paddler pledges combined, brings the event’s seven-year total to $259,412.
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