New Leaf Link (NeLL) celebrated the end of its eighth year of programming with the performance of a play about the environment that was based on Dickens' “A Christmas Carol” last Wednesday (June 1) at the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church.
The play featured the 13 young adults who attended NeLL programming this winter, as well as volunteers. The group moved their twice-weekly program to the Free Methodist Church earlier this spring from their former home at St. Paul's Anglican in Sydenham.
“We had a great home at St. Paul's,” said NeLL founder, Karin Steiner, of the move to Harrowsmith, “but for accessibility and capacity reasons this is a more suitable space for our programs.”
NeLL has been well supported by individuals, businesses and groups from across South Frontenac over the years, and this year they received a grant from the township to help with the move to Harrowsmith.
“We have been supported by the community and some local foundations over the years, and this year we are very excited about our arts programming. We have Gary Rasberry doing music; Annie Milne doing puppets; and Christine Harvey doing drama. We have received a grant from the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area for our arts program, and we have been invited to make use of the Tett Centre in Kingston to do some work there. It's amazing what we have been able to do over the last year or so in the arts.”
New Leaf Link was established as a means to fill a gap for young adults who had graduated from School to Community classes and were living in South Frontenac, where there was no programming available at the time for residents of South Frontenac. Since then NeLL has developed three streams of day programming: skills and literacy; health and recreation; and arts and adapted technologies. Fees for the day programs are kept to a reasonable $30 per session and since there are no salaried staff, all grant money is used to augment programs.
“Every grant helps us to build our capacity to grow,” said Steiner, adding that NeLL is seeking support from the Ontario Arts Council to help set up a third day of programming. She would also like to see NeLL run a two-week camp in the summer.
“We really have become a community, and it is a long summer for many of our youth. They miss each other,” she said.
While NeLL was established partially out of frustration with the way the funding system for developmentally disabled young adults was set up, it has become something more, an asset to South Frontenac.
“We generally all care for each other. We are happy to come together, be together and learn together. We talk together about our issues; we share news. We know what we are all about and where we want to take this,” said Steiner.
After the closing of the Tiffany gift store last year, Shelly Lacelle of Wilton Creek Fabrics, which is located just across the road from the former Tiffany store, on the west side of Road 38 at Colebrooke Road, decided to turn the upper floor of her heritage building into a new store.
She calls it the Upstairs Tea and Gift Shop.
At the store opening last Saturday, May 28, Shelley was happy to show off some of the product lines she will be carrying. One of the centrepieces of the store is the product line from Tea Forte, a premium tea company whose pyramid-shaped tea infusers and unique tea blends have been a major force in bringing back the elegance and ceremony of a fine cup of tea.
The Upstairs Tea and Gift Shop is also carrying a full line of teacups and other accessories.
Since the shop is located above Wilton Creek Fabrics, which is celebrating its 14th anniversary on June 4, Shelly is able to offer quilts for sale for the first time.
“I have been selling fabric and providing workshops and advice to quilters from across the region for 14 years, and with the store I am now able to sell the work of some of the best quilters I know,” she said.
“These are not mass-produced quilts you can find at a box store. Each quilt is one-of-a-kind, made from the finest quality designer fabrics; true works of art.”
The store also has Canadian-made stoneware by Maxwell Pottery of Mattawa. Signature pieces such as their Canoe on a Lake dip sets; pendants by Dotti Pots; and the toys and cottage decorations that fill the carefully designed display area should be popular with the local population as well as with cottagers. There is also fine cabinetry by Rabbet Wood and Glass Design of Sydenham.
“I really have no idea how this is going to go,” said Shelly, “but it is something I have wanted to do for a while now, to offer something new in Harrowsmith and turn more of my building to retail.”
There is also a potential opportunity for an entrepreneur who is interested in serving tea at the store. There is a kitchen and a small dining room space that could be turned into a tea room if someone was interested.
“It is not something that I have time to do, with the fabric store and the gift store now taking up all my time, but I would be happy to welcome someone to do it,” she said.
The Upstairs Tea and Gift Shop is located at 4909 Road 38 in Harrowsmith. It is open Tuesdays to Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 10 am to 4 pm; Fridays from 10 am to 7 pm. Call 613-372-1972 for more information.
As part of the celebration of the 119th anniversary of the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario, members of the Harrowsmith Women's Institute (WI) are participating in the Teddy Bear and Quincy Book project.
The Harrowsmith Institute was given copies of the book “Quincy and his Quilt: a Northern Adventure”, a book published by the Women's Institute 10 years ago after they held a contest for the best book about a bear named Quincy. At least 20 of the 27 club members then purchased a teddy bear and then either quilted, crocheted or knitted a blanket to go with it.
The books, bears and blankets were delivered to a meeting on Tuesday night, May 30, where they were collected by Harrowsmith WI president, Jane Adamson.
“I will contact the local schools, or the township to see that the books, bears and blankets are delivered to children in the area who are in need of something to brighten their day,” said Adamson.
The Harrowsmith Women's Institute is celebrating their 91st anniversary this year.
A power failure did not deter these kids from having fun at the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church Family Fun Day on Saturday, May 28. Generators were brought in to power an inflatable bouncy castle and to air-condition the church basement where a sale was taking place. There was lots of water, free food and face painters at the fair, which ran from 9 am to 2 pm.
On April 13, a public input and information session regarding the implementation of a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) for Harrowsmith was held at the Golden Links hall, with roughly 20 members of the community attending. The township plans to roll out the CIP this year and the meeting was led by County of Frontenac community planner, Reid Shepherd.
The meeting had two objectives. The first was to outline the CIP program, which offers $70,000 in funds to residents and business owners.
The primary elements of the CIP include grant and loan programs to residents and business owners to support facade improvements and commercial space funding, as well as help for municipalities to fund public space improvements and local infrastructure.
To date, CIPs have been implemented in Verona (2011), Sharbot Lake, (2012), Marysville (2013) and in North Frontenac this year. Shepherd said that the Harrowsmith CIP is nicely timed and will coincide with the plan to improve the village's main intersection at Road 38.
The second aim of the meeting was for county staff to hear what residents would like to see achieved with the CIP. Guests were split into groups to discuss and list their priorities, their visions for the future, and what programs and objectives they hope the CIP addresses.
Surprisingly, the guests all shared a similar vision. The main focuses appeared to be on facade improvement to some of the buildings in the village, and the hope of attracting new businesses to the area.
Beautifying the village center was also a common aim, and the addition of flowers, benches, and bicycle racks was suggested. Many attendees also agreed that a pathway should be constructed to connect Centennial Park to the trail, and that a community building at the trail hub with a washroom and other facilities would benefit trail users.
Regarding the types of programs to implement, many agreed that grant/loan programs be geared to attract new businesses, since many store fronts have been vacant in the village center.
Other suggestions were: building an outdoor skating rink; dealing with derelict buildings; rehabilitating the old cheese factory property; keeping St. Paul's United Church as a community hub; and looking into investing in more seniors’ housing in the area.
It was also agreed to expand the CIP target area to include the Golden Links Hall and the cemetery. Reid Shepherd said he was pleased with the turnout and the commitment shown by the attendees, who included not only community leaders but also county and township staff; namely, county planner Joe Gallivan, CAO Wayne Orr, John McDougall, Ron Vandewal, and Anne Marie Young.
The next steps will be for Shepherd to draft a plan based on the input from the meeting. The plan will be presented to council for their review, and will be followed by a public meeting. Shepherd will then seek council's final approval for the plan.
At a meeting of church members on Sunday, which was also attended by officials from the United Church Conference and Presbytery, a decision was taken to close St. Paul's United Church in Harrowsmith. St. Paul's will be looking towards amalgamation with Trinity United Church in Verona.
A meeting is being held at Trinity later this week to discuss where to go from here. St. Paul's and Trinity already make up a single pastoral charge and share the services of one minister, but formal amalgamation will be a larger step.
Nancy Moore-Carr is the chair of St. Paul's Council. She said, “It has become harder and harder for us to pay our bills since there are fewer and fewer members. The members had a vote on Sunday and decided to move towards amalgamating with Trinity in Verona. At some point in the near future St. Paul's will be closing.”
The decision came after a discussion of all the potential options, including the possibility of keeping St. Paul's open while pursuing a co-operative pastoral charge with the Sharbot Lake/Parham charge or another one in the area, but in the end the majority voted in favour of closing now.
“There will be many decisions to be made in the future, many details to be worked out as we go forward, one of them being how we move forward together with Trinity.
This is not something that we wanted,” said Nancy Moore-Carr, but as one member said, 'there isn't any point in staying open if the church is empty'”.
The future disposition of the church building remains to be determined. Impacts on community groups that use it for events and meetings will be considered, before the sale of the church and the adjacent manse can be carried out.
“It would be great if there were a community group that came forward to take it over, like what has happened to the Grace United Church in Sydenham. This is another blow to Harrowsmith, I'm afraid,” she said.
In the end, the aim will be to consolidate the congregation at Trinity in Verona.
The timing of the closing coincides with for South Frontenac Township and Frontenac County, who just announced plans to launch a Community Improvement Plan in Harrowsmith. A public meeting to kick off the plan is set for April.
If you asked the students at Harrowsmith Public School about baby Addie, they will be able to tell you all about her thanks to the Roots of Empathy program that has been taking place there for the last four years.
The program, which is offered not only across Canada but globally across three continents, strives to foster empathy in students by inviting a neighborhood infant into the school for nine monthly visits. Over that time, the students are encouraged to observe the baby's development and to label the baby’s feelings and intentions. In so doing they learn to better identify and understand their own feelings and the feelings of others. The idea is that the students will become less likely to hurt one another physically, emotionally or psychologically.
In the short term the program has been shown to reduce levels of aggression and bullying among primary and elementary school children while increasing their social/emotional competence and empathy. Over the long term the program's aim is to encourage responsible citizenship and responsive parenting.
I visited Harrowsmith PS last week when six-month-old baby Addie and her mother, Valerie Hopkins, were visiting Ms. Lalonde's junior/senior kindergarten class. The visit began with Valerie bringing baby Addie around to each student, who each, in turn, had a chance to greet her.
Wendy Sims, who is a trained instructor with the Roots of Empathy program and an early childhood educator in Ms. Lalonde's classroom, led the visit, which was baby Addie's fourth to the school. Her first was back in November.
The students had a chance to comment on the changes they observed in her development and when she was placed on a carpet with the students gathered around her, her mother unpacked her baby bag and along with Sims explained to the students all of the articles and how they are used to help care for Addie.
One especially unique aspect of the program is that during the visits, it is the baby who becomes the teacher in the classroom. Sims, who has been an instructor with the program for three years, said the students over time develop a very strong bond with the baby and come to realize that they were at one time as young, as small and as vulnerable. “The students develop a real love for the baby and actually start seeing her as their baby and someone that they care and look out for. It's amazing to see how excited they become when she visits the classroom and the positive effect it has.” Sims said that the program also covers numerous related topics like the responsibility that comes with parenting and caring for a child. Valerie Hopkins said that Addie loves the classroom visits as much as the students do and that the program is as enjoyable for her and Addie as it is for them.
All babies are welcome in the program and Sims pointed out that even if babies are fussy, it brings an opportunity for the students to see how Mom reacts to and cares for them. Ms. Lalonde said she sees a real difference in her students as a result of the program. “You can see how gentle the students are with baby Addie and that gentleness really transfers over into the classroom day to day. We, adults and children alike, all need empathy and this program really encourages that.”
Started in 1996 by social entrepreneur, Mary Gordon, the program’s main aim is to encourage emotional literacy in youngsters, which has been found to lay the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms where empathy can educate both the heart and mind of the students. Studies on the effectiveness of the program have found that children involved in the program show an increase in prosocial behavior, social and emotional understanding, the knowledge of parenting, and cognitive and emotional empathy, as well as showing a decrease in aggression. A long-term evaluation also showed that the program’s beneficial effects were often maintained and continued for years in participating students.
Seeing the program first hand was a real eye opener and it was truly amazing to see how one little bundle of joy can encourage empathy in youngsters. For more information about the program visit www.rootsofempathy.org
Scott Forbes and Dawn Forbes have been involved in providing a wide range of products to help people and organizations with mobility needs for years. They worked for five years, with partners, as Goldline Mobility and Conversions, but have now opened their own independent business, Berg Elevating, in a brand new location at the Harrowsmith Plaza (next to the new L&A Mutual Insurance Office) off Road 38.
Their office includes a reception and showroom area and a large shop where they are able to do van conversions and still have storage space available.
“Scott has been doing this kind of work for 30 years,” said Dawn at the opening celebration and ribbon cutting last week, which took place on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Berg Elevating Repairs and General Services does a lot more than van conversions. They sell, install and maintain lifts, ramps and elevators for home and commercial use, and provide wheelchairs, handrails and dozens of other products for clients throughout Eastern Ontario.
Because of their history and experience, Berg Elevating is a very busy start-up company. They already employ three technicians and travel across the region to satisfy an ever-expanding demand for their services.
They were joined at their opening by Michelle Parmenter Smith and her team at All-In, a one-year-old company that works to help those with mobility impairment access supports, equipment and services, and also provides case management and peer support.
“I've worked with Dawn and Scott for years,” said Michelle Parmenter Smith. “They are good at what they do, very good, and they are committed to this community. This is more than a business for them.”
Farmers gathered November 9 at Long Road Eco Farm near Harrowsmith for a year-end farm tour, with a cooking class, potluck lunch and open stage variety show. The event wrapped up the eastern Ontario CRAFT's (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) season of on-farm educational opportunities, which included tours as far north as Maberly (Ravenfield farm), with visits to farms in Inverary (Edible Forest), Battersea (Patchwork Gardens) and into Kingston Township (Farewell Farm), among others.
The CRAFT chapter is seated in Kingston, but welcomes farmers from as far as are willing to travel to a given tour. Monday's event drew farmers from as far west as Prince Edward County, and as far north as Jasper, as well as the many more that came from within the Kingston area.
Ontario currently has two chapters: one in eastern Ontario and another serving mainly the southwest. While the latter has focused its efforts towards facilitating internship opportunities in its network of farms, the east has focused more on education in the form of farm tours and workshops. Farmers benefit from learning from other farmers with similar challenges and values (most member farmers are either organic or ecologically-focused).
The season-ending party coincided with a slowing workload on many farms as field production wanes for the season. Around 20 people attended, and participants learned how to make Chinese dumplings and steamed buns in a workshop led by local farmer and food vendor Xiaobing Shen. After a late-morning tour of the farm, attendees enjoyed lunch and music by several talented farmers, as well as guest performance by Kingston-based singer-songwriter David Parker, who performed songs from his most recent CD release, "Calm Me Down".
The 22nd annual installment of the Roberta Struthers Craft and Bake sale attracted hundreds of shoppers to the Golden Links Hall in Harrowsmith on November 14. The event, which is sponsored by the local Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, is named in memory of Roberta Struthers, a long time Rebekkah who initiated the sale as a fundraiser for the local Golden Links hall. Struthers passed away in 2006 and the event has been carried on ever since. The sale included loads of home made baked goods and a wide range of gift and hand crafted items from 26 vendors, with a portion of the proceeds helping to pay the costs to keep the community hall up and running. A raffle was held for a number of items donated by vendors, individuals and businesses in and around the local community. New to the sale this year were Elaine Peterson and Walter Busse, owners of Bee Happy Honey of Gananoque, who had a “sweet” display of their products up for grabs. The two run over 200 hives and have been making honey for decades. They just recently started selling their products locally at various markets. The annual event included a lunch, and shoppers who attended no doubt made a sizable dent in their gift giving lists for the holiday season.