Tree of Lights fundraising campaign geysers over the top


MANITOULIN – This year’s Manitoulin Centennial Manor Tree of Lights Campaign will be the last headed up by Wendy Gauthier of Little Current, but one couldn’t ask for a better swan song as the resident-oriented fundraiser has blown through its $25,000 goal, with $38,870.25 raised to date as of Ms. Gauthier’s December 16 board meeting fundraising report.

“Isn’t it amazing,” enthused Ms. Gauthier when contacted by The Expositor after the board meeting. “I received donations from family and friends of current and past Manor residents who mention how grateful they are for the care their loved one received,” she noted, adding that the readiness of that group to step up to the plate is “A tribute to the staff, for sure—unsung heroes sometimes.”

Ms. Gauthier also had high praise for The Expositor in enabling the campaign to extend its reach this year, another factor she credits with this year’s exceptional success.

“We had a huge response from outside Little Current this year,” she said, crediting the support of the paper for the campaign and a flyer inserted in the paper during this campaign. “I credit that flyer in The Expositor with helping to educate people outside of Little Current about the campaign.”

“The response has been very heartwarming,” said Ms. Gauthier. “People realize that the Manor serves the entire Island community.”

She said that over the past seven years of the Tree of Lights campaign it has become a Christmas tradition for many people when considering their charitable giving for the season.

Knowing that the funds raised are going directly toward projects that increase the quality of life for Manor residents has been an important factor in that giving. “And it is all done without hitting the taxpayers,” said Ms. Gauthier, noting that the Manor is a municipally-run long-term care facility.

For Ms. Gauthier, the Tree of Lights campaign has very personal meaning. “These are the people who created the quality of life that I enjoy,” she said. “We would be pretty poor people if we didn’t recognise that.”

The Tree of Lights campaign has accelerated the accomplishment of the wishlist contained in the Manor’s 10-year plan. “We have knocked things off that list,” Ms. Gauthier said, “making room for new things to improve the lives of our elderly citizens.” For those who are no longer able to live in their former homes, the Manor has become their new, inviting home.

The Manor board thanked Ms. Gauthier for her outstanding service, although Ms. Gauthier will be attending the next board meeting to deliver a wind-up report on this year’s campaign, the board is now seeking to recruit a volunteer fundraiser to take over the fundraising reins. That volunteer will have some big shoes to fill, but Ms. Gauthier has some words of encouragement for her replacement.

“The generosity of the Manitoulin Island community is amazing,” she said, crediting her success to the donors who have brought the Manor projects from dreams into reality. Among those projects have been new non-slip flooring throughout the home, the ongoing courtyard project (ably assisted by a (so-far) anonymous donor family) and, this year, upgrades to the dining room.

As for the Manor board’s reaction to Ms. Gauthier’s report, the words of board member MJ Lenihan sums it up well: “wow.”