Compassion trumps COVID
Like everything else, working for the greater good got harder during COVID-19, with many charitable organizations losing access to their most lucrative opportunities for fundraising: large crowds. For charities and non-profits that operate without core government funding, it was even tougher to keep going. But keep going they did, making persistence and perseverance pay off for the betterment of their communities. LEMONADE STAND In Newfoundland and Labrador, Holly Denine is working with the board of directors at Nevaeh's Angel Foundation, a registered charity that raises money to help the families of children with cancer. The legacy of a generous heart — the foundation began as a lemonade stand created by Denine's daughter, Nevaeh, who died in 2018 at age nine from a rare cancer, neuroblastoma — Nevaeh's Angel Foundation has raised more than $430,000 and helped 69 families so far. The organization has a couple of small fundraisers in the works for this fall, Denine said, keeping COVID distancing and capacity rules in mind. “We have 11 requests (for assistance) since January,” she said. “A lot of families still need support.” She says Nevaeh would be proud of all she helped accomplish. ‘LONELINESS CAN BE CRUSHING ...’ In Nova Scotia, Michelle Porter and her husband, Rev. Ken Porter, are offering food, hope, support and sanctuary to people in need in Halifax, Bridgewater, Truro and the Eastern Shore. Motivated and inspired by their religious faith, the Porters did not waver in their mission when COVID-19 struck. In fact, they recognized that the need would be even greater among vulnerable people because of the mandated isolation of lockdowns. “Loneliness can be crushing for people,” said Michelle, the CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, “especially if you fear for your life if you're at high risk for COVID-19. There's a huge housing shortage in Halifax right now, and across the country.” She said many of their staff are as committed as she and her husband are to the work they are doing. “Members of our staff have said, ‘If you can't pay us, we'll come every day and work for free.'” PLENTY OF NEED In Prince Edward Island, there are currently 193 members who make up the group 100 Women Who Care P.E.I. They each contribute $100, four times a year, and choose recipients from among nominated charities. Thanks to Zoom calls, their work continued throughout the pandemic. “We haven't missed a beat,” said chapter founder and spokeswoman Aileen Matters. “The charities need us more than ever now, because their normal fundraisers — golf tournaments or dinners — couldn't go ahead.” Recent recipients of donations of $19,000 or more (the amount fluctuates based on the number of members) include Wo He Lo, a group that raises money for neonatal equipment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown; the PEI Humane Society; and PEI Family Violence Prevention Services. Cape Breton and the Annapolis Valley also have a 100 Women Who Care organization that is active in the community. It's heartening to know that even a pandemic is no match for philanthropy.