Grand Manan – The campaign to raise funds for the purchase of a point of care ultrasound machine for the Grand Manan Hospital recently received a boost with a donation of $6,000 from the 100 Women Who Care Grand Manan.

Susan Ballantyne, one of the four founding steering committee members of the group, said the 100 Women Who Care Grand Manan group has between 60 to 82 members at any given time.

Angie Russell, a teacher on the island, approached Ballantyne with the idea. They shared it with Tammy Brown and Heather Lambert and the first meeting in the summer of 2016 to test the waters was beyond their expectations.

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“We had 62 women come with their cheques for $100 each. It was very exciting,” said Ballantyne.

The first official meeting was held in the fall of 2016, and the group voted on three presentations, choosing to award the funds to a teacher who was seeking money to purchase much-needed sports equipment for the Grand Manan Community School.

“She showed up with pictures of sports equipment that was pretty pathetic,” said Ballantyne.

The teacher came back to the next meeting to tell the women everything she had purchased with the $6,200 they had donated – from enough baseball equipment for two teams, to mats for gymnastics as well as volleyball and track and field equipment and basketballs.

Ballantyne said the women like to learn what’s been done with the money.

“It makes everybody feel good.”

Since that first meeting there have been five more with attendance ranging from 62-80 women.

“It’s been great.”

Three non-profit organizations are chosen from a list to present to each meeting. After their presentations, the members vote on which group is most deserving of their funding. A group who receives money is not eligible for more for three years.

The Grand Manan Nursing home received money to purchase a geriatric wheel chair and some other specialized equipment.

Another group working in tandem with the island’s parks and recreation committee, received funding to purchase playground equipment. The shop at the school has been able to purchase new digital lathes and the playground committee at the school used its funding for things like an asphalt pad to support a basketball net.

The group meets three times a year and members are asked to commit for a full year, either coming to the meetings or sending their cheques with someone else.

Ballantyne said it is not accepted for members to come and support the causes they may like and not those they don’t particularly care for.

There’s been an added bonus to the generosity of the 100 Women Who Care Grand Manan.

“One of the things I have found most heartwarming is that almost at every meeting there are spin-off good deeds,” said Ballantyne.

When news got around the geriatric chair was an essential item for the nursing home, a second chair was donated.

“It’s really pretty wonderful,” said Ballantyne, agreeing Grand Manan is a small island with a big heart.

The next meeting of 100 Women Who Care Grand Manan is scheduled for mid May at the school.

The presenters at that meeting will be the island’s Royal Canadian Legion, which is looking for money to support its banner project which will see banners of veterans affixed to poles in the community similar to those in other Charlotte County communities; the Grand Manan Museum which has what Ballantyne described as a “fabulous gazebo project based on a lighthouse that has basically fallen apart.”

That project entails creating a gazebo replica of the lighthouse which would contain a history of the lighthouse.

The third presenter will be The Children’s Fund, a group similar to the Children’s Wish Foundation sponsored by an island church.

Ballantyne explained if an island child has a serious illness which the hospital on Grand Manan isn’t equipped to deal with, treatment then must be had in either Saint John or Halifax, which carries expensive travel costs.

“The fund would help with situations like that,” she said.

“It’s hard,” said Ballantyne with a laugh. “Every time I go thinking I know who I want to vote for and then I hear the presentations …I want to vote for all three!”