CORNER BROOK The Mazol Shriners of Newfoundland and Labrador do some pretty important work to aid in the care of sick and injured children at Shriners Hospitals for Children around the world.
Like many other organizations, Roger Tinkham said the Shriners are finding raising the money to meet those needs is getting “harder and harder and harder.”
Not only are more organizations competing for the money that’s out there, but there are less people doing the work.
“Our membership is declining,” said Tinkham, the illustrious potentate of the organization. “But we’re not alone in that.”
He said the same thing is happening with Lions Clubs and Kinsmen Clubs.
“Because the people growing up today, they have their families and there’s so much time, the hockey, and the cheerleading and the dance, and they don’t have time to expend to a volunteer organization.”
Tinkham and other Mazol executive members are in Corner Brook this weekend visiting with the Long Range Shrine Club.
But before they got here they stopped in Springdale on Thursday to introduce that area to the work the organization does and to look for new members.
“Between Grand Falls and Corner Brook there is no Shriners presence,” said Tinkham. “And this is what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to expand a little bit so that we’ve got this part of the island covered. We know there’s children in this area that we can help, but we feel that they don’t know anything about us.”
Currently, Tinkham said there are about 125 children in the province who receive care through the Shriners hospitals.
Looking after their needs “costs quite a bit of money.”
To help cut the costs the Mazol Shriners offers an outreach clinic twice a year in Gander.
“What happens there is we’ll bring a doctor and a nurse in from Montreal and they will assess the patients in Gander to see whether they should go further or whether it (any care needed) can be done locally.”
Tinkham said the Mazol Shriners has an annual budget of just under $300,000 to operate its patient transportation fund.
Some of that money is raised by the 11 temples across the province, who also raise money to support the local clubs.
And a large portion of it comes from the operation of an RV park in Eastport. With almost 100 sites sold yearly, Tinkham agrees it’s sort of a creative way to raise money. He said in years to come the park will be a saving investment for the Mazol.
In addition to local and provincial needs, Shrine clubs in this province also contribute to Shriners International to support the organization’s 22 hospitals.
It takes nearly $900 million a year, about $2.45 million a day, to operate those hospitals.
A big project now is the replacement of the only Canadian facility in Montreal.
Tinkham’s visit to the west coast is also giving him a chance to reconnect with an area he served during his career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
He was first posted in Corner Brook in 1961-1962 as a second class constable. He then spent time all over the island and came back in 1972. Now a corporal, Tinkham ran the traffic squad in the city until 1976.
Then he went to Rocky Harbour for a year and half before postings in Bell Island, Grand Falls and St. John’s. He retired with the rank of staff sergeant in Gander in 1997.
After arriving in Corner Brook on Friday afternoon, Tinkham attended a flag raising at city hall, followed by a meet at greet at the local lodge in the evening.
Today he’ll attend a luncheon and meeting with members and a banquet and dance.
On Sunday, he and the other executive members will return to St. John’s and next week will visit Labrador City on Thursday and Goose Bay on Friday and Saturday.