Mark Clairmont |

BRACEBRIDGE — Rotarians here are practising what they preach — Service Before Self.

Their Rotary Youth Centre, on Wellington Street, is one of two COVID-19 assessment centres in Muskoka.

And on March 21 the Bracebridge service club started a special Rotary Cares Covid-19 Assistance Fund Program to support working families in the community who were immediately impacted by the closing of their workplaces.

The program was designed to bridge needs of working families between vanishing pay cheques and receipt of emergency assistance from the government.

Since then, as of April 8 Rotary Cares gifted $500, or more depending on family size, in grocery gift cards to 50 families in the community.

According to Linda Brouillette, committee member, referrals to the program came from club members.

“As well as from our Canada Day sponsor businesses and other business owners in the community.”

She said in a release Monday that those businesses “were concerned about their employees, churches and school administrators among others.

“In little more than two weeks our allocated program funds were expended.”

Brouillette said committee members spoke individually with each family.

“And we know they were extremely grateful for our help.

“We now have heard from other sources we know that government assistance has been received by some, so we achieved our goal of assisting with grocery funds before the government funds arrived.”

The Rotary Cares Covid-19 Assistance Fund Program has contributed in excess of $25,000 to families in the local community, since the fund also received additional gift cards related to a discount from Gagnon’s Your Independent Grocer.

The program concept received unanimous approval on March 20, from the club’s ongoing Rotary Cares committee, the club’s board of directors and the donor to use $25,000 of its Rotary Cares funds to support the needs of the community in a timely way.

In addition to the $25,000 Rotary Cares Covid-19 Assistance Fund Program, the Rotary Club of Bracebridge has made additional contributions to the community in this time of unprecedented need including a $5,000 donation to the Manna Food Bank and, thus far, a $2,000 donation to the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation for snacks for the frontline workers at the South Muskoka Memorial hospital.

The Rotary Cares Program began operations in 2011 and since that time has provided support to approximately 150 families caring for 425 children through one-time contributions for essential household expenses like rent, utility bills and groceries. The Rotary Cares Program is made possible through the generous donations of an individual who wants us to focus our efforts on helping young families who have serious financial difficulties and have exhausted other avenues for support.

This is all in addition to the club’s regular community service committee, which budgets $9,000 to help others in the community with special needs.

For more information, contact: Paul Hammond, chair, Rotary Cares Committee

Email:; 705 645-2414

Or member Linda Brouillette, email:; 705 645-6724

Bracebridge Rotarians are helping those impacted by the coronavirus in a big way with numberous community donations.

Email Mark Clairmont at


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