Photo: Presenting a few of the members of the Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex, from left (Back row): Yvonne Pilon, Lauren Brummel, Adam Castle, Katharen Bortolin, Shawn Oldridge, Dalia Mazhar, David Burman, Jennifer O’Neil, Nicole Crozier, Bethany Jessop and Shannon Sampson. (Second Row): Lauren Nantau, Nicholas Tonita, Sara Grace Donally, Ashley Sarros and Alison Araujo. (Seated in front): Nicole Prozenko. Photo courtesy of Bianca Bennett Graphic Design & Photography.
Put On Your Red Shoes with Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex & Fundraise For Ronald McDonald House Windsor
May 9, 2016 marked a significant moment in health care in Windsor and Essex County with the opening of the Ronald McDonald House Windsor (RMHW). Unlike similar projects across the country, the RMHW house is unique in that it is the first Ronald McDonald House fully contained within a major hospital — the Windsor Regional Hospital Metropolitan Campus.
The AGM report for fiscal year ending August 2016 (representing only one quarter of the year in operation) indicates it was successfully operating at a 90% occupancy, having served 34 families with 524 nights of comfort. Average length of stay: 15 days; longest stay: 73 nights; average occupancy rate: 90%; number of nights full: 103 nights out of 115; rooms out of service: 0; number of families that were not able to be accommodated due to capacity: 10; average length of time on waiting list: six to seven nights.
Needless to say, these statistics speak powerfully to the great need for the Ronald McDonald House in our community.
At about the same time that the Ronald McDonald House made its introduction to Windsor, a group of young business professionals also made their presence felt in establishing the Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex.
They are a grassroots charitable group affiliated with the Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, the primary funding source for the 15 Houses, 16 Family Rooms and two Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles across the nation. The name, Red Shoe, derives from the iconic red shoes worn by Ronald McDonald (the clown character mascot of McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain).
Sara Grace Donally works in the health care industry and recently relocated from London, Ontario to Windsor. During her time in London, Donally was a member of Red Shoe Society London for four years and serendipitously became a catalyst in establishing the second Red Shoe Society of Southwestern Ontario in Windsor.
On January 17, 2017 Red Shoe Society Windsor–Essex was formed with a Board of Directors that currently stands at 17 members. Presently, there are more than 40 members in the group. Donally is the board’s first President.
Dalia Mazhar is the Public Relations Chair of the Board. She stresses that both the Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada and the Red Shoe Society share a similar vision, “We believe in the healing power of families.” They raise support, awareness and funds for the Ronald McDonald Houses throughout Canada.
The Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex is targeting volunteer recruitment to young business professionals between the ages of 20 and 40 who have a love for their community, and who wish to serve and give back. This demographic is not restrictive in terms of age, and both men and women are welcome to participate. Mazhar points out that, “this demographic is very similar to the family demographic benefitting from the services provided by the Ronald McDonald House.”
After an initial recruitment drive event earlier this year at the Water’s Edge Event Centre, the group recently held a sold-out social event celebrating “Oktoberfest” at the Heimat Windsor Banquet Centre, 1367 Drouillard Road. It was a fun-filled social evening during which a raffle was held and more than $500 was raised for the local Ronald McDonald House.If you are interested in becoming involved (or know someone who would be) with the Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex, you can contact them through their website and take out a basic membership for as little as five dollars per month. For those who can afford more, there are other levels of financial contribution available.
As a member, there are certain perks attached. The Society networks with local businesses who donate services and products as an inducement for new members to get involved. The funds from the membership and from society sponsored events go directly to the local Ronald McDonald House to assist them with their needs.
The Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex membership actively donate their time doing such things as cooking an entire dinnertime meal from scratch for families staying in the local Ronald McDonald House. They have an opportunity to sit and chat with family members, providing them much-needed respite from the stress of their days.
New for 2018, Donally says the group is introducing the “Red Shoe Box” initiative. “Local businesses will be canvassed to become monthly sponsors for our local Ronald McDonald House by donating products and services in the Red Shoe Box according to a wish list of wants and needs provided by the local house.”
Donally also hopes to deliver seminars on professional development aimed at growing the wealth of talent our young professionals in the community have. Judging by the members of the current Board of Directors, there are some very qualified mentors to assist in this project.
With the holiday Christmas season upon us, here’s a good opportunity give yourself a well-deserved and far-reaching gift: a membership to the Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex. (email them here: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Be sure to follow the Red Shoe Society Windsor-Essex on Twitter and Instagram @RedShoeWE and on Facebook.