The Good Neighbours’ Club was presented with a $5,000 US grant from the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation in Park Ridge, Illinois today to help it provide healthier meals for the growing number of homeless and marginally housed seniors whom it serves in downtown Toronto.
The MDRT Foundation, which provides global grants, is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, it will award nearly $1 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 100 charitable organizations worldwide. The foundation was created in 1959 to provide MDRT members with a means to give back to their communities. Since its inception, it has donated more than $29 million in the U.S. and more than 70 countries around the world. These funds were raised by MDRT members and their industry partners.
Jeffrey Dawson of Jeffrey Dawson Insurance Agencies Ltd., who has long supported the Club, sponsored it for the grant and then presented the $5,000 US to Dr. Bruno Scorsone.
“The Club is an unknown gem in downtown Toronto that provides life’s essentials for a growing number of homeless seniors,” he says. “As long as it’s operating at Jarvis and Shuter, no one ever has to go hungry.”
The MDRT Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Million Dollar Round Table, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®. MDRT is an international, independent association of nearly 42,000 life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 80 countries and territories. MDRT membership is internationally recognized as the standard of sales excellence in the life insurance and financial services business.
There are many good reasons for volunteering. Big reasons can be to have an impact on the community or to make this world a better place. None of these were my reasons for spending four hours helping to serve lunch at the Good Neighbours Club last Wednesday.
I had often thought of helping some organization someday before. Someday! The thoughts of doing good things kept being pushed aside by the more immediate concerns in life; for family, work and friends. Helping strangers, even for very good reasons, always became more remote.
Finally, my decision to volunteer came from none of the big reasons. It was at the gentle insistence of my colleague, who with a small and mighty group orchestrates many of the “good deeds” within our offices.
Good Neighbours Club is a place to be a home-away-from-home for older men with limited means. The nominal –priced meals and the recreational, showers and laundry facilities are ways to sustain a healthier life and give dignity and connection to those, least likely to get it anywhere else.
During my time in the busy kitchen, which made amazing meals from modest ingredients, I encountered people I would normally never meet. I heard amazing stories of lives of some of these men, who did not seem diminished and destroyed. Their courtesy and cheeriness were surprising, given their current circumstances. I am pretty sure none of this would be possible without the Good Neighbours Club.
The Good Neighbours Club creates all this with little resources. They need more help. I am looking forward to helping raise some more money and to giving my time again. But it’s not just what I give, it’s what I get. The biggest reward for me from a few short hours was that the people I was helping and the fellow volunteers gave me new ways of looking at the world. The broader horizons and new perspectives -those are my reasons.
You’ve heard it before: A singer calls for the band to “bring it on home,” which is a signal to ramp down, wrap up and finish off the tune. But, for some, bringing it home doesn’t come so easy. Shelley Saywell’s moving music documentary, narrated empathetically by activist and Parachute Club singer Lorraine Segato, gives voice to Toronto’s itinerant buskers and homeless, traumatized troubadours. Inspired by Alan Lomax’s folk-blues field recordings of the early 20th century and recalling the 2012 prison doc Music from the Big House by Canadian blues artist Rita Chiarelli, Lowdown Tracks offers the stories, housing situations and hard-won melodic truths from gifted musicians who fell through the cracks. As one of them puts it, “It don’t take much to lose your soul out here in the streets – people just take it from you.” They have their songs, though. And now, after recording sessions held at Blue Rodeo’s home studio, so do we. – Brad Wheeler
The Good Neighbours’ Club was established in 1933 to respond to the needs of a large number of elderly, unemployed and homeless men, many of whom were veterans of the First World War. May Birchard, who founded the Club, was strongly motivated by strong principles, particularly the belief that “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” She and the early supporters of the Good Neighbours’ Club believed that older men in need, and particularly veterans, ought to have access to the basics for a dignified life.
We continue to ensure that the values held and practiced by the Club’s staff and volunteers are based on the fundamental principles of integrity, fairness, service, excellence and respect for human dignity and potential.