Willows Estate Participates In Program To Assist Poor

Mike Comeau with Sue Dubeau
Mike Comeau, of ICROSS presents Sue Dubeau with ICROSS CANADA Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of Willow’s giving
As the Ontario director of ICROSS Canada (International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering), Mike Comeau has been given the task of providing donated medical equipment – wheelchairs, crutches, canes – to individuals in need in regions where extreme poverty and the ravages of war have left large numbers of people without access to proper medical supplies.

ICROSS Canada – an entirely volunteer driven charitable organization running on a meagre budget – doesn’t have the resources to refurbish the equipment, so it has to be ready to be shipped and used immediately, says Mike, a pensioner and veteran peacekeeper.

With their own small surplus of medical supplies for the injured or disabled, Willows Estate recently donated four Broda Chairs, six wheelchairs, numerous elevated toilet seats, and a number of canes to the ICROSS program.

“We’re so appreciative,” says Mike, noting that older but still functional wheelchairs will most likely otherwise end up rusting in a scrap yard or landfill site. As ICROSS lacks the funds to ship the equipment across the country to their Victoria home base, Mike often logs heavy mileage picking up the equipment.

In honour of Willows Estate’s donation, Mike recently presented administrator Sue Dubeau with a certificate of appreciation. (see photo)

Mike says that support for program is widespread – he fields calls from individuals, Lion’s Clubs, Legions, and nursing homes wanting to donate walkers, canes, quad canes and wheelchairs.

Mike also maintains the IZZY doll program – named after Master Corporal Mark Isfeld, a peacekeeper killed during a de-mining operation in Croatia. Volunteers knit dolls to be given, along with medical supplies, to orphans in war-torn regions where Canadian peacekeepers are active.

“The same children that need the medicines will also be able to get a little doll that can comfort them,” says Mike. “Some of these children have never owned anything in their lives.”

Proceeding from the biblical maxim – “The needy will not be forgotten nor the hopes of the afflicted perish” (psalms 9:19) – ICROSS was set up to deliver aid directly to the world’s most needy citizens. ICROSS is currently focusing its efforts in Kenya, in providing comfort and improving quality of life for terminally ill AIDS victims.

ICROSS, says Mike, benefited substantially in donation terms after the airing of a W5 documentary on their work entitled “Heart of Darkness.” A recent patron – high profile former Canadian General Lewis Mackenzie – has also boosted their funding, which in recent years has been on the wane.

Mike advises that one large container full of medical supplies is shipped per year and readily laments the often logistical-nightmare involved in guaranteeing the goods end up in the proper hands.

But ICROSS Canada remains undeterred by piracy, funding problems or import costs.

“It’s a big ocean,” says Mike, of the pervasiveness of poverty, “and we only make a drop in it. But it’s my drop and my ocean too.”

There are some minor inaccuracies in the article but it’s great media attention for both ICROSS CANADA and our family of veteran-peacekeepers. Mike Comeau