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Burnaby Pediatrics Supports the Tetra Society in Style

May 19, 2020
86 year old mother knitting

An employee at the Bayshore Home Care Solutions – Pediatrics branch in Burnaby, B.C., has come up with a timely way to raise money for charity: sewing face masks.

Each year, the branch’s employees vote on which charity to support. For 2019–2020, they selected the Tetra Society of North America. This Vancouver-based organization builds innovative solutions for people with physical disabilities to overcome environmental barriers, which provides greater independence, quality of life, and inclusion. The Tetra Society has 27 local chapters, and it serves 40 communities in Canada and the United States.

“The Tetra Society has been helping with assistive equipment for our clients, like hand controls and gaming controls, so we felt it would be a really good partnership to fundraise for them,” says Eileen Stirrat, who is the branch’s fundraising coordinator. She has worked at the branch since 2005, initially as a field nurse, then as a manager, and now as the intake nurse who processes new admissions and prepares clients’ care plans emergency protocols and other chart documents. Stirrat has been involved in the branch’s fundraising efforts for several years.

The Burnaby Pediatrics team usually undertakes a variety of fundraising activities, such as lunches and bake sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put in-person events on hold. Stirrat came up with a solution: raising money by selling washable face masks to her family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues to wear while running errands or using public transit. She has personally made 100 of the colourful patterned masks, all on her own time, and her kind neighbour Leanne has made an additional 50 masks. (Both of them also donate the materials.) Stirrat sells the masks for $2.50, though most buyers happily contribute more.

In addition to the masks, Stirrat is selling adorable animal-themed hats for kids and adults. Each year, she designs the hats, and her 86-year-old mother, Yoko, knits them. “She can pretty much make anything I draw,” says Stirrat, who was an artist and a preschool art teacher prior to becoming a nurse. “My mom and I both like doing things, and we’re both a little crafty.”

Last year, Yoko knitted hats and baby blankets to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, the branch’s chosen charity for 2018–2019. Most of the wool is donated annually by one of the branch’s managers; this year, the rest was purchased using the proceeds of an Almond Roca sale held pre-pandemic. The price for each warm and fuzzy hat is “by donation.” “A lot of people give me $10. Most people give more. Everyone’s been really generous,” says Stirrat.

To date, she has sold 150 masks and 30 hats, raising an impressive $1,285 for the Tetra Society. “We would’ve sold more masks, but the elastic is sold out everywhere!” Stirrat says. (Her mother has since found a clever workaround: knitted ear loops.)

In addition to hat and mask sales, donations are coming from several branch employees who contribute to the Tetra Society through payroll deductions. And, thinking ahead to a time when physical distancing will no longer be necessary, Stirrat plans to raise more funds by holding lunch events and selling delicious homemade granola and hot sauce.

The Bayshore Foundation is matching funds raised by the branch before July 1, 2020, at a rate of 50%. “Matching dollars are possible through an annual gift from Bayshore HealthCare,” says John Lawrence, Director of the Bayshore Foundation. “The funds are donated in honour of Bayshore’s employees for their dedication and support to their charity.”

The Bayshore Foundation for Empowered Living strategically funds initiatives that improve Canadians’ quality of life by removing barriers that prevent them from taking control of their independence.

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Connect with your local Bayshore office or clinic, and help them support charities in your community. Thank you for your generosity!

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