Submitted by Sister Rheina Schellenberg - Altona Elks No. 447
I became a member of the Altona Royal Purple back in 1997 and joined the Elks Lodge when we shut down in 1999.
I am fortunate to have 2 healthy girls and have been reminded of this blessing every time I speak with a family in need. I have seen and worked with many families over the years, being the Charities Chair for our local Elks Lodge and later sitting on the National Charities committee. Every situation has been different but still pulls at the heart strings all the same. Even though it was 10 years ago, I remember Linda and her story as it literally brought me to tears.
"My name is Linda and we have been fortunate to have received financial aid from the Elks.
When my daughter, Cassandra, was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immune Deficiency (SCID), we were caught very unaware. The hospital stay away from my twin boys and husband, the cost of renting the apartment, the P.I.C.U. All these things and I couldn’t work to offset any expenses, though I don’t think I could have concentrated enough to work effectively. My family is great with fund-raising and the churches gave tremendously, but we were still behind financially. On my rare visits home, I tried to reach out to other organizations but, for one reason or another, we were ineligible for financial aid. Until someone suggested the Elks of Canada – Altona Chapter. I called around to find the phone number for someone on the board until early afternoon when I contacted Rheina. She was helpful, sympathetic and assured me that though they were between scheduled meetings, she would make a few phone calls. That very same evening she was at our doorstep with a cheque! Even writing this account brings me to tears for their immediate and unequivocal support.
We made it to April of that year, when our beautiful girl died from complications. We were devastated. I had quite the emotional rollercoaster. Because, before Cassie died, I had found out that I was expecting again. Needless to say, I was very concerned. SCID is the result of a recessive gene, both parents need to have it to have a child exhibiting the symptoms. At that, there is then only a 25% chance. However, after having one child with the symptoms, your chances are greater for each subsequent child.
This time we were more prepared, we thought. On November 16, 2007, he was born at 9 pounds 11 ounces. The staff knew to test the cord blood for a low white blood count and we were informed that Matthew had SCID 2 days after he was born. We had weekly appointments in Winnipeg starting when Matthew was only 4 days old. Matthew was 3½ weeks old when it was discovered that he was developing pneumonia. So he was hospitalized, and with him, me.
It was in December before we were actually hospitalized that I talked to Rheina again. She said that there wasn’t a meeting scheduled because of the Christmas season, but she’d make some phone calls. Not 12 hours later she said she had a cheque for us! And there the blessing came. The Lodge not only paid for the apartment, but for my food and Jake’s gas for when he came to visit on the weekends, she even brought a soccer ball for the boys.
Matthew is doing much better now. Our Winnipeg trips are fewer and now that he has had his Central Line removed, we have no more trips to Boundary Trails Health Centre.
Having gone through one hospitalization without financial help, I have recommended contacting the Elks of Canada to others in similar situations. It cannot hurt to ask. My sisters and I are making infant toques for premies to try to pay the debt forward, but I’ll never break even on that score.
God bless the Gift and the Giver.
Founder of “The Cassie Project”, Linda creates crafts from loom knitting and uses the money to help raise funds for local children’s charities. This past fall, she contacted me to seek permission to have the Altona Elks as her charity of choice this season. It touched my heart again to think that the Elks of Canada made an impact on this wonderful woman and her family during a very difficult time. Every donation, no matter how small, can make a huge difference for someone in need. Linda’s contribution will be forwarded to the Elks and Royal Purple Fund for Children (National Charity of the Elks of Canada) so that it may help others in need of assistance. This just reminds me again as to why I became, and continue to be a member of the Elks of Canada, there is no greater feeling than to know that you have made a difference in someone’s life.
You can donate to the Elks of Canada by calling 1-888-843-3557 (1-888-THE-ELKS) or by visiting www.elksofcanada.ca
Please check out The Cassie Project on Facebook or donate at her crafting booth in the Winkler area.