Mindemoya hospital among Gore Bay Masons’ last-ever beneficiaries

From left are MHC president and CEO Lynn Foster, Gore Bay Masonic Lodge #472 Master Aaron Wright passing the cheque to MHC fundraising committee chair Angela Becks, past master Adam smith and Masonic inner guard Marcus Mohr. photo by Warren Schlote

MINDEMOYA – Members of the now-closed Masonic Lodge #472 in Gore Bay gave a $20,000 gift to Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) toward its major project this year to expand and renovate the emergency department at the Mindemoya hospital site.

“We had looked at how much money we would have left once we shut down the lodge, and we decided along with the Shriners’ Hospital in Montreal and the Medical Centre in Gore Bay, (the Mindemoya expansion) would be another great choice,” said the lodge’s more recent master Aaron Wright, who visited the hospital last Thursday, March 4 to present the cheque.

He handed over the donation alongside lodge inner guard Marcus Mohr and past master Adam Smith. Receiving the funds on behalf of MHC were fundraising chair Angela Becks and president and CEO Lynn Foster.

“MHC’s Mindemoya site has a long history of serving patients,” said Ms. Becks. “The renovation and extension of the emergency department will improve physical space and flow. Both are much needed as MHC strives to meet its goals and mission of putting patients first.”

The total cost of the project, named ‘Let’s Emerg Together,’ is pegged at about $5 million. MHC will cover half of the costs and the rest of the funds will come through fundraising efforts.

Gore Bay Masonic Lodge #472 had a century-old history before it closed effective December 31, 2020. Mr. Wright said the lodge members had made the decision to close the lodge after the pandemic accelerated its decline. Declining membership has been a trend but the pandemic’s disruptions created more instability.

“We wanted to make sure we left a legacy because if we had kept the lodge open a little longer, we would have burned through all of our savings. This way, we can help the community one last time,” said Mr. Wright.

“We’re very pleased you thought about MHC and helping us with this project,” Ms. Foster said as the Masons presented their unsolicited donation. “We still have a bit of a way to go but we appreciate the help and we look forward to recognizing your gift so the community knows how you’ve helped us.”

Masons are maintaining a presence on Manitoulin through Doric Lodge #455 Little Current. Some of the Gore Bay Masons will be joining that group but Mr. Wright said he and some others would be joining Sudbury. Others, however, may opt not to join another lodge.

“Masons strive for contributing to their communities. We hope the Little Current (lodge) can keep supporting our whole Island,” said Mr. Wright.

In addition to this donation, one to the Montreal hospital and the third to the Gore Bay Medical Centre, Lodge #455 members will be giving a final donation to NEO Kids Foundation in Sudbury, the masonic district deputy project.

“A sincere thank you is extended to the Gore Bay chapter for their generosity; together, we are building a legacy for our community,” Ms. Foster stated in the press release, on behalf of MHC’s board of directors and the fundraising committee.

MHC will be starting the public phase of its ‘Let’s Emerg Together’ campaign later this spring.