If you’ve read Watershed carefully over the past twenty years, you’ll know that we don’t always do things in a conventional way. And the story I’m about to tell definitely fits into the unconventional corner.
It could be said that Roger Thomas is a man “outstanding in his field” or rather Roger is “out, standing in his field” or “standing in his outstanding field of sunflowers.” Whatever phrase you choose, you’d be right.
Roger’s dad Archie was in the orchard business for years, so needless to say, Roger knows something about horticulture. Earlier this spring Roger planted a selection of sunflower seeds – some Russian Mammoths, some King Kongs and a selection of seeds that had cross-pollinated from other varieties over 20 years. He thinned out the patch, leaving about 80 of the most vigorous plants, added a little fertilizer now and then, the rain in June certainly helped and by July, Roger had a patch of sunflowers that was reaching for the sky.
It was about that time when he rumbled up my driveway in his 1980 Ford pick-up with an ear-to-ear grin and the idea of a contest. The idea fit perfectly with Watershed’s 20th anniversary. We would call it the Field of Dreams.
Roger chose the top 20 sunflowers in the patch, one for each year that Watershed has been a part of the community and secretly numbered them. On August 27, twenty Watershed contributors – from writers to circulation managers – drew numbers from Roger’s baseball hat. (Trust me, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission would not have approved.) As it turned out, the winning sunflower – the highest, brightest, and boldest – was 13’2” tall and Jennifer Shea drew her lucky number. The gold medal was accompanied by a $1,000 cheque donated by Watershed to a charity of Jennifer’s choice.
Jennifer chose the Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward. It was a wonderful choice because the Humane Society is pushing hard to fund the building of a new facility and a mobile veterinary clinic. Jennifer presented the cheque to Executive Director Marilyn Lawrie the following Monday.
But I can’t end the story here without taking things full circle. Twenty years ago, I had a dream of a small regional magazine. And like Roger’s sunflowers, it has grown beyond my expectations. For years it has been a Field of Dreams that I’ve shared with people like Roger and Jennifer, in fact the whole Watershed team. I drew a lucky number in 2001 and the prize has taken me far beyond publishing a magazine. It’s created friendships and connections to my community that I will forever treasure.
quote “Thank you very much again for your cheque presentation towards our building fund and a huge thanks to Jennifer for choosing Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward as her chosen charity.” Marilyn Lawrie, Executive Director Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME
When it comes to the Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward’s Field of Dreams, they are building it, and the animals will come.
On June 9, 2021, Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward (HSHPE) and its design-builder, Task Force Engineering Inc., broke ground for a new animal shelter on a 6.3-acre lot at 34 Wallbridge Loyalist Road, in Belleville.
The need for a new facility is urgent as the old building has fallen into disrepair, according to Marilyn Lawrie, HSHPE Executive Director.
The “It Takes Heart” Capital Campaign has been raising funds for the new shelter. To date over $3 million has been raised, with donations coming from private citizens and businesses as well as major funding and loan guarantees from the City of Belleville and the City of Quinte West.
Phase 1 of the project includes an Animal Care and Adoption Centre and a Community Mobile Clinic that will provide spaying, neutering, vaccination and microchipping services. Due to recent anonymous gifts and other support, HSHPE is now proceeding with Phase 2, the Community and Education Centre. Phase 3, an onsite veterinary clinic, is planned for the future.
HSHPE is supported by donations, adoptions, fundraising events, product sales and grants, and a dedicated group of volunteers who provide shelter for over 2,000 sick, abused, neglected and homeless animals each year. The Society operates as a not-for-profit shelter with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other levels of government to improve conditions for animals while maintaining “a balanced sensitivity toward both animal and human needs.”
For animals and caregivers alike, it’s good to know that there is a community facility ready to provide care when it’s most needed.