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Tanner Campbell drives from Stratford to Ceylon (Flesherton) with a donation of 4,000 KN95 masks and 4,000 empty livestock feed bags on behalf of Masterfeeds Canada in London. The feed bags will be filled with sand to protect the people of Ukraine.
When I read that Ukraine had been invaded by Russia on February 24, 2022, my predominate emotions were anger, fear, and frustration. Angry that a sovereign nation could be invaded in 2022. Fearful that the war would be devastating to the people of Ukraine; and frustrated because I didn't know what to do to help.
When my phone rang a week later, I immediately cancelled the call. I was comforting our little guy who was recovering from Covid and the number was from a U.S. area code so I dismissed it as a spam call. Then it called me again. I cancelled it. And then I got a text message.
The text read:
"Roger, it's Andrei, please contact me if you can." Andrei is my only Ukrainian friend. In fact, we're members of the same Masonic Lodge in Mimico. I had been thinking about him and his wife, Iryna, since the war started and was wondering how they were doing. I hadn't spoken to either of them in at least two years. But they were on my mind.
My phone rang again. This time I answered it.
It was Andrei, but he sounded different. I don't want to say desperate, but rather in despair. I could tell by the sound of his voice that the situation over there was bad. When he asked me if I could help reach out to the Masonic community and anyone else I knew to collect aid items to help with the war effort, I jumped at the opportunity.
We parted ways on the phone and I messaged Iryna to see how exactly I could help.
She furnished me with a list of critically-needed items that the Ukrainian Community in Toronto was working to collect to help their embattled homeland.
Reading the list inspired me to start making phone calls and sending emails and text messages to friends, clients and colleagues to spread the word and start collecting donations.
The first person I reached out to was Mike Muzzin.
Mike and I are friends and customers of one another. He's a South Etobicoke resident and President of ITEX Barter Canada, of which I am a member. I had seen how Mike had been successful with previous fundraising and donation campaigns among the ITEX membership in Canada and the US. I thought that we could do something similar in an effort to send as many items off the list that Iryna gave me and get them over to Ukraine as quickly as possible.
Mike not only collected items from ITEX members (16 pallets worth at the time of publishing), but he donated of his own accord and even delivered items to help Iryna; a working mother of three who's also studying for a Masters degree and coordinating donation efforts all the while.
Mike and I have been in constant contact ever since and he's been instrumental in this effort to help the people of Ukraine. Thank you, Mike. You have a big heart, my friend.
My next series of emails and phone calls was to local politicians I know from my work as a magazine publisher and podcast producer.
James Maloney, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Jennifer Hartley, his Chief of Staff, were more than accommodating in my request to share the list of critically-needed items to constituency members. As was Mark Grimes, Toronto City Councillor for Ward 3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Mark and his Chief of Staff, Kim Edgar, wasted no time in publishing the list on their weekly eNews publication that's distributed to thousands of residents in South Etobicoke. Kam Saran and Cecilia Santos from Office146, a community co-working space in Alderwood, agreed to act as a drop-off location for donations. David Armstrong, a local businessman, Alderwood resident, and Secretary of Superior Masonic Lodge No. 501 in Mimico also deserves thanks for spreading the word to Masons across Ontario. So far, we've filled an office with donations from the wonderful people of Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
As I began to read the list in greater detail, I noticed that I could source some of the non-lethal aid items from a surplus store. I called Dave at TNT Surplus in New Toronto and was surprised by what I heard.
He told me that as much as he would prefer to be having a typically-low sales month in March, his store has been packed with people purchasing camo gear, helmets, tactical vests and gloves, body armour, backpacks, and blankets to ship over to family members. South Etobicoke has strong Ukrainian roots.
One of the items on the list that struck me was empty bags which could be used to fill with sand. After seeing video of an excavator on a beach in Odesa (Ukrainian spelling, and I suppose the only proper way to spell it) moving sand to local residents so they could fill sandbags and use them to protect themselves and their monuments against Russian attacks, I realized that we have a bunch of empty horse feed bags at home. Maybe they could work. Then I realized that if we had a few empty feed bags kicking around the farm, Real Farmers may have plenty.
And plenty they did.
After realizing that empty feed bags could be prevalent in Grey County, I drafted an email in my head while driving to Huron Tractor in Chatsworth. I pulled over in Williamsford, typed it, and sent it to a small handful of people in Grey County whom I thought might be able to spread the word about collecting empty feed bags. I sent a similar message to Rob Flack, CEO of Masterfeeds Canada in London thinking that since they make feed there that maybe he could spare a few empty bags.
Three minutes later, my phone went 'ding'. It was a text message from a gentleman named Zak Rahim, Director of Communications for Rob Flack. He confirmed receipt of my message, told me that he had forwarded it to Rob and will stay on it and get back to me. Three minutes.
Six days later, Rob Flack and Masterfeeds delivered 4,000 empty feed bags and 4,000 KN95 masks to my farm outside Flesherton. Six days.
I was pleased to find out that Rob is running to become the Member of Provincial Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London. I hope he wins. We need more leaders like Rob Flack.
The next morning , I received a reply from the email I had sent out the day before to some local Farmers in Grey County I know. The email was from Paul McQueen, Mayor of the Municpality of Grey Highlands and also a Farmer. His response really got the ball rolling and was followed shortly thereafter by Lorie Smith from Grey Agricultural Services in Markdale. Lorie was quick to offer her office space as a drop-off location and subsequently shared the call to action with the Farming community in Grey County.
The response was overwhelming.
Thanks to the work Lorie has done to spearhead the feed bag campaign, we've collected pallets worth of medical supplies, warm clothing, blankets, backpacks, canes, and walkers, as well as 6,000 empty feed bags, give or take. Her office was overflowing with them.
Grey County Farmers stand with Ukraine.
Between the efforts in Etobicoke-Lakeshore and Grey County, we had collected no less than 20 pallets worth of donations in less that two weeks. But now what do we do with them?
The Ukrainian-Canadians we were working with, along with other aid agencies and warehouses in Toronto were overwhelmed with donations by this point. They didn't have the storage capacity to take more items. We hit a logistics road block.
Concerned that we were sitting on these items that had been so graciously donated by kindhearted folks, I was incredibly grateful to have received a call from a gentleman by way of Alex Ruff, Member of Parliament for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. A couple of days later, I was contacted by the logistics lead for a new all-volunteer emergency relief effort helping to procure and ship non-lethal aid to Ukraine. They're called Mriya Aid.
They've been in contact with me daily, sometimes more frequently than that, and have arranged for all the items that were collected and sitting in their respective storage facilities to be picked up, delivered to a warehouse in the GTA, and shipped over to Ukraine. Alex Ruff could not have jumped in to help at a better time. Thank you, Alex!
And thank you, Mriya Aid.
A lot of people have been asking me how they can donate money to help with the humanitarian aid effort. They usually say that they had donated in the past to large aid organizations but were otherwise marketed to in subsequent years for further funding. Mriya is, as previously mentioned, an all-volunteer organization. As such, they cover all administrative expenses themselves so every dollar they receive in donations goes directly towards procuring non-lethal aid and shipping it, along with donated items, directly to those who need it most in Ukraine. They just get it done. And that gives me hope that we in Canada can help those in Ukraine. Quickly. Now.
If you or someone you know is looking for a concrete way to help the people of Ukraine, please consider donating financially to Mriya Aid.
Bundles of empty feed bags donated by Grey County Farmers.
About the author:
Roger Tumminieri is a former Toronto resident who now lives with his wife, Jessica, and their two young boys on a horse farm in Grey County, Ontario.
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FARM LIFE: Easter Reflections
I’ve never met a king and yet One lives within my heart.
I’ve never held the hand of a king yet daily He holds mine, bidding me to walk with Him.`
I’ve never sat at the feet of a king and listened to what he had to say yet daily He invites to bend low, to touch, to study His heart through His sacred word.
I’ve never had a king inside my home yet daily He walks the hallowed halls of my home, touching here, laughing there, smiles and tears upon our lives, teaching us of His ways.
I’ve never watched a king wrestling with a hard decision yet daily I can choose to enter into the hard decision He made when He wrestled for my soul.
I’ve never yet, ever, seen in real life or photos, a king dying, hanging, shamefully exposed, writhing for something he didn’t do yet He did it for me.
I’ve never yet seen a king stretched out, lifeless, broken, yet He lay there, stretched thin, the weight of a broken world behind Him.
I’ve never yet seen a king lost, destitute, lifeless, dead, but in a single moment in just the appointed time He exhales, He breathes, He rises.
I’ve never yet seen so many things on earth but the King of heaven entered our earth, penetrated my darkness, stretched Himself thin, rose triumphant for me.
I worship. Because what can I do but worship our King?
Louella Martin is the co-owner of Azure Highlands Homestead. She lives on a farm with her husband, Jesse, and their two young girls in Markdale.
WELLNESS: Logic Levels
Logical Levels for Personal Change: Environment There are many theories of creating a change in your life. I’d like to share with you one of my favourite models at looking at and understanding where change needs to happen to make it meaningful and real in your life. Over the next couple of months, I’ll introduce each level of this model, called Logical Levels, and use the condition of diabetes as an example. We’ll start from the bottom and work our way up!
Logical Levels is a model for personal development, created by Robert Dilts. When considering a personal change, understanding these levels and their interactions with the change you are hoping to make can help guide your development. The levels in this model, from bottom to top, are: 1) Environment; 2) Behaviours; 3) Capabilities; 4) Beliefs and Values; 5) Identity; 6) Purpose.
The lower levels of this model are the ones that are more easily affected or changed, but may have a correspondingly minor effect on the overall change you wish to make. The environment around the change that you want to make includes the physical space, objects in the environment, and people that you interact with. How does this apply to a condition like diabetes?
For people who are living with diabetes, their bodies have an impaired processing of sugar that is taken in through the diet. The Diabetes Canada guidelines recommend lifestyle change as a foundation for diabetes management. This includes diet and exercise modifications. How can your environment affect lifestyle changes such as these?
Consider the types of food that you have in your house at this very moment. You may know exactly where the “bad” foods are kept. A change that you can make to this environment, is to remove these foods from your space. You may also consider what equipment or space you have set aside for exercise at home. If you created a space specifically for exercise and acquired equipment to use for this purpose, would it make it more likely that you would exercise?
Expand your concept of environment to include the places that you find yourself at most often. This can include your usual route through the supermarket. Change how you walk through the grocery store and notice what new and different foods you may encounter. Do you often find yourself at fast food restaurants? Making the choice to find food from better sources may help you eat better. Finally, do you make it a habit to be in an environment that is conducive to exercise (i.e. a gym)? This would increase the likelihood of physical activity.
Jonathan Nhan is a Pharmacist, Certified Diabetes Educator, Hypnotist, and co-owner of Curate & Upgrade. He lives in North York.
MUSIC HISTORY: Confessions of a Mall Musician
Back in May 1969 on the front page of the then Advertiser Guardian, the headline news was about ground-breaking.
Ground breaking news it was, as Etobicoke by Sherway Drive adjacent to Etobicoke Creek was the chosen location to build the second largest Toronto indoor mall; Sherway Gardens. Serendipity was in print, too, as there was also an article about my debut organ concert at Martingrove Collegiate Institute.
A few years later when I was an undergraduate music student at McMaster University, I helped pay for my tuition and residence by performing and teaching at Toronto Piano and Organ Centre on weekends. From 1972, through the next decade, Sherway Gardens became my unofficial musician residency. Whenever there was a need for live music at Sherway, I was all in; 10 digits and a two feet.
From elegant Fashion Shows, Breakfast TV shows, Celebrations, Festival Sherway Holiday Shows to playing for Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club Tour, it was a most rewarding and albeit humbling experience. I’ll never forget the day when Johnny Wayne (of the Wayne & Shuster comedy team) gave me the thumbs up!
The best audience, of course, were the children.
As children are initially inert to cultural opinions and bias, they quickly inform you if they approve of your work...or not. Clapping and/or dancing was definitely the response that I was on ‘groove’.
Then again you might never know who is listening.
One day I was playing one of my own compositions on the piano and a gentlemen approached me and asked what was the name of the piece I was playing. When I answered it was one of my own, he became most intrigued. Flattered, he then asked me to score it so that it might be recorded on the Berandol and Polydor Labels.
A few years later it was surreal hearing my full orchestrated composition ‘Comin Home’ being aired on Toronto Radio stations. That tune has earned me a certified Gold Record by the Canadian Music Industry Recording Association (50,000 albums sold in Canada).
A quick jump to 2002, one year after 911. I had just returned from Los Angeles’s National Association of Music Merchants show. Strange as it sounds I had met this gentlemen carrying around his latest invention in a shotgun case trying to garner interest and invest in his MIDI piano keyboard reader. I was sad, actually. It was even more profound when he finally introduced himself as Don Buchla.
Seeing a great giant and pioneer of the 1960s synthesizer revolution in such a forlorn state was unbelievable. It was probably then that my stomach flipped and I felt that it was time to disarm the music hardware and go back to my first love of music - education.
Sherway Academy of Music was founded in the summer of 2002 and I have enjoyed every sonic journey. We were the first music school to offer Toronto Rocks Cool, Triple Threat Pop-Chops and Song Writers Sessions.
One of my first teachers was Nicole Sinclair; a finalist on the first season of Canadian Idol. My other teachers and students have Sherway Academy roots, too. Leah Daniels, Stephanie Braganza, Dante Matas, Graham Campbell Simon Lukasewich, and CBC Washington correspondent, Katie Simpson have all blossomed with successful recording broadcasting and performing careers.
Twenty years later, Sherway Academy is now a hybrid music school offering in-home, private studio, and online music instruction. As Sherway Academy celebrates its Twentieth anniversary, new students may enjoy 20% off their first month of tuition.
Post note to Don Buchla (1937-2016):
Don Buchla sold his invention and rights of the ‘PianoBar’ to Moog (Moog Synthesizer) Instruments in 2002.
Bill Zufelt lives in the Toronto lakeside neighbourhood of Long Branch, in South Etobicoke. He's the owner of Sherway Academy of Music.
PERSONAL GROWTH: How I Survived Squirrel Mageddon
“I ran out to the deck, screamed hoping to scare away the beast, which only seemed to ramp up its destructive behaviour”
- Amanda, Long Branch Resident
I’ve spent a lot of time writing in the Etobicoke Lakeshore Press offering ways to improve your life, with
inspiration for happiness, gratitude, less stress, etc. How about something different today? I’ll spend some time on the realities of home ownership. A rant.
A black squirrel made a home improvement for herself last week. She built herself a new Airbnb. From a tree beside my deck, she must have spent some time scoping which spot she could reach and temporarily house her pending family. My deck seemed the ideal choice. It offers direct access to a covered nesting space via said tree, then into the scupper accessing the chambers of my deck.
Once the decision of where to build her temporary home was made, she ran along a particularly large tree branch which reaches almost to my deck and launched herself onto the railing. It was quite spectacular and efficient. I’m glad I could make it so easy for her. And then, the destruction began.
To decorate her new digs in a neutral tone, she selected my beige deck furniture covers. She meticulously tore apart each piece and dragged it below to improve the existing living space. In the
aftermath, my deck looked like Armageddon. I’m sure she’s quite pleased with herself for a job well done.
So why did this intruder choose to start a home improvement project now?
Squirrels mate between December and February. With the gestation period lasting 38 to 46 days, female squirrels will give birth in early spring (February through April). It looks like this mama needed a nest. By improving her living conditions, she’s hoping to improve her babies’ quality of life. Despite this being the normal course of mother nature, I am no longer amused by squirrels. They are now my enemy.
I’m on a mission to evict the squatter.
To be continued…
Amana Kirkland lives in South Etobicoke and works as a Personal Growth Coach.
Thanks to AAA Gates' Wildlife Control, Ms. Squirrel was evicted and had to find somewhere else to squat. This Airbnb is closed.