Wendy Gauthier delivers final fundraising report to Manitoulin Centennial Manor board of directors

Tree of Lights organizer and Manor board member Wendy Gauthier with an order form

Under her watch, Manor has raised $500K in seven years

LITTLE CURRENT – It was a bittersweet moment, as Manitoulin Centennial Manor’s board of directors received retiring fundraising chair Wendy Gauthier’s final report. A provincial appointee to the Manor board, Ms. Gauthier has helmed the Manor’s fundraising efforts to a series of remarkable successes during her tenure, but she is quick to deflect any accolades for her efforts.

“I have enjoyed working with this board,” she said, adding, “I am grateful that even when faced with making difficult decisions, this board has put the wellbeing of the residents, the staff and the Manor first.”

Ms. Gauthier noted that in the past seven years more than $500,000 has been “invested” in the Manor from several sources. “I choose that word on purpose,” she said. “The donations are an investment in what is considered an important part of the health care system here on the Island.”

This year, nearly $45,000 was raised during the Tree of Lights campaign alone.

Far too few of those “investments” have come from grants from upper tier governments, she said. Instead, the bulk of this remarkable flow has originated from active fundraising through letter writing, concerts, the gala, the Tree of Lights campaign and unsolicited donations. “Many of those unsolicited donations have come from benefactors who wish to remain anonymous,” she pointed out.

“When donations are made to the Manor, very often they are made in appreciation for the care loved ones have received while living in the home,” she told the board. “Staff is an invaluable part of the fundraising team.”

Ms. Gauthier went on to say, “people are happy to donate to the Manor,” but she later admitted in discussion with The Expositor that, at the start, it was a bit of an uphill battle getting the fundraising efforts off the ground, but donors soon came around. As she told the board, “They may have questioned why it was necessary to fundraise for things like the call bell system and carpet replacement—budgeted items—but they still gave.”

“There is a community of donors out there who value this home, who praise our staff, who support this board and will continue to donate to Manor causes,” she said. “We are lucky.” 

Wendy Gauthier

As she told The Expositor after the board meeting, “People get it.”

The Manor’s role in the community has changed substantially since it first opened as a non-profit retirement home in 1967. Those changes were brought home to her when one of the residents was going through some old photographs from the Manor’s early years. “The resident said to me ‘they used to do square dancing here’,” she recalled. 

Since then, the Manor has evolved into a long-term care nursing home and was renovated in 1998 to meet design standards set down by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. With a waiting list currently sitting at half of its 60-bed capacity, it is clear that many consider the Manor to be the place to live out their final years as comfortably as possible with dignity.

Ms. Gauthier reminded the board that the major annual fundraiser, the Tree of Lights, might have begun slowly, but quickly gained steam. “The Tree of Lights started with $8,000 in its first year, in 2021 total of $59,953.02 was raised, $44,468.98 of that in the Christmas campaign,” she reported, totalling almost a quarter of a million dollars in seven years.

“I have already received the board’s thanks,” said Ms. Gauthier, referring to the board meeting which hosted her official resignation from the post. “Now it is my turn to thank you,” she continued. “I’ve learned a lot from this experience as a fundraiser and thank the board for all their support. I also need to thank (Manor receptionist) Peggy Smith for all her help.” Ms. Gauthier noted that Ms. Smith had fielded an immense amount of work on behalf of the fundraising efforts in addition to her normal duties.

“In closing, I had a meeting with individuals who expressed interest in continuing the Tree of Lights fundraiser. They will let me know in a couple of weeks if they will be taking it on. I am hopeful. Thank you.”