Angela Paquin said she was at a loss for words Nov. 10 after Steelworkers Local 6500 presented Warmhearts Palliative Caregivers Sudbury/Manitoulin with a cheque for $50,000.
Union president Rick Bertrand handed over the cheque during the Warmhearts' 11th annual Unsung Heroes Ball. The organization had originally been hoping to raise $30,000 through the event.
Steelworkers Local 2020 also gave the organization a cheque for $2,500 — the proceeds from their annual golf tournament.
“They have warm hearts,” Paquin, co-chair of the Unsung Heroes Ball, and a Steelworkers employee herself, said. “Maybe a lot of people don't see that, but they are very generous. They are community-minded, and very good people.”
The Steelworkers also hosted the Unsung Heroes Ball, providing the use of their Brady Street hall free of charge.
“We just truly think it's a great organization,” Bertrand said.
The services of Warmhearts volunteers, who help those living their final days, are sorely needed because there's more and more people “filling the hospitals, dying of cancer and cardiovascular disorders,” he said.
Since 2003, Steelworkers Local 6500 members have contributed one penny an hour each towards the children's treatment centre. Bertrand said the union will celebrate the donation of $500,000 to the cause later this month.
Now that the union has fulfilled its commitment to this cause, its board decided to donate funds from the one penny an hour initiative “in big chunks” to other deserving charities, he said.
The Unsung Heroes Ball, which is also sponsored by Northern Life, recognizes both Warmhearts volunteers, and the city's police officers, firefighters and paramedics.
The several hundred people in attendance had a chance to bid on various donated items, and enjoy musical performances and snacks.
“It's an evening to really recognize the contributions of our unsung heroes in the community,” Mary Lou Hussak, Warmhearts executive director, said.
“It's not just the people who are always touted, but the men and women who keep our community safe through EMS, police and fire.
“We're also recognizing the contributions of our volunteers, who really are unsung heroes. They go into people's homes and provide services for people who have terminal illness, and their families.”
Very often, Warmhearts and emergency services personnel are dealing with the same clients — those “who are sick, who are dying,” Paquin said.
Greater Sudbury Fire Chief Dan Stack is the honourary chair of this year's ball. “Anytime you're recognized through the community and given community support, it's an honour in itself,” he said.
He said he thinks Warmhearts deserve a lot of credit for the work they do.
“I think they're awesome in many, many ways,” Stack said. “I believe it takes special people to have that type of commitment to the people that are in their last days of their lives.”