TIERNEY: You don't have to look far to see giving can be fun
Charitable giving is a key component in the budgets of local health,
educational, artistic and research institutions. As government budgets
get tighter, philanthropy gets more and more important. Our non-profit
organizations need our financial support.
Philanthropy comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people can give large
gifts, some people give small. The Mingo-McEwen Fund, which kicks off
its 15th fundraising campaign on May 8 with its annual Ugly Shirt Comedy
Night, takes it anyway you want to give it, from children collecting pop
bottles to individual citizens cutting thousands of dollars in a single
cheque. Services, T-shirts, anything that could be a prize in a raffle
or an auction, the Mingo-McEwen Fund will take it all.
And you will probably get swept up in the giving buzz created by Bob
McEwen and his volunteers. It is infectious, filling (because there is
always food supplied by sponsor Dagwoods) and fun.
Even a sceptic like me gets caught up in the stampede to give.
You’ll find the name Mingo-McEwen Fund (MMF) up on the wall in the
dining room at the Palliative Care Centre in Pointe Claire. Bob McEwen,
then a town councillor in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, teamed up with the town
of Ste. Anne to give $75,000 during the centre’s construction
You’ll find MMF on the wall in the Palliative Care room at the Montreal
Children’s Hospital, where the Mingo-McEwen Fund first started raising
money for furniture and equipment.
You’ll find the MMF logo on the backs of specialized wheelchairs at the
Veterans’ Hospital. And now, in 2010, you’ll find the MMF logo
associated with the mobile dental unit that brings dental services right
to the veterans’ bedsides.
MMF isn’t just a charity that gives away as much as $100,000 a year: it
is a family and friends commitment to giving that has been transformed
into a mini-social movement.
“We get donations from anywhere and everywhere,” explains McEwen,
founder and chief organizer of this Ste. Anne-based charity. “I’m not
shy. I’ll take anything and it’ll end up in one of our raffles. I even
auctioned my mother’s cooking for an evening. Our MMF kids collect
bottles and do odd jobs to raise money. And one donor recently teamed up
with MMF by contributing a very large sum of money to veteran dental
MMF started with a catastrophic accident, an illegal hockey check on
Bob’s son, Tim, in a hockey match. Tim was driven into the boards and
broke his neck. He was rushed to the Children’s Hospital. There, he
shared a room with Brent Mingo, himself a childhood victim of
“Brent was struggling with major health issues,” Bob told me at the bar
in Cunningham’s in Ste. Anne, a restaurant he founded with a group of
friends. “It put Tim’s fracture into a new perspective for us. Brent and
his parents really affected us. Brent had this hockey dream, to be
associated with a serious team. So we made him honorary captain of the
John Abbott team I was coaching. The team organized a fundraising
evening for the Children’s Hospital and we raised $5,324, which was then
used to purchase things for the neuroscience ward. The Mingo-McEwen Fund
was born and we’ve been raising funds and giving them away ever since.”
With a core group of about 120 volunteers for the three main activities,
McEwen calculates that about 1,600 people are involved in one way or
another with the charity. Last year, 350 people came to the Ugly Shirt
Comedy Night and they raised $12,000.
I have been to several MMF events and I can confirm charity doesn’t get
much more effective than that.
The 2010 MMF Ugly
Shirt Comedy night is Saturday, May 8, at the Paul-Émile Lépine
Community Centre, 150 Perrot Blvd., Île Perrot. The evening starts at
6:30 p.m. with light snacks and cocktails.
Bill Tierney is the
former mayor of Ste. Anne de Bellevue.