Shriners set sights on helping local youths

Tyler Clarke
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By stirring up local interest, Prince Albert Shrine Club members want to make sure local youth benefit from the new Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal.


“It’s not just kids from Prince Albert -- it’s kids from the north, from the Alberta border, from the Manitoba border -- from say, halfway to Saskatoon, or all the way to Saskatoon for that matter,” Prince Albert Shrine Club president Ron Sterling said.

Installed as president during a ceremony on Friday, Sterling comes fresh with enthusiasm for the club’s various efforts to help youth in medical distress.

Under the guidance of outgoing president Bob Hayes, the Prince Albert Shrine Club raised $12,251.87 this past year for the Montreal hospital effort, it was announced during the club’s year-end meeting.

Money was raised through liquor store cash boxes, bingos and this summer’s circus, among other efforts.

Money raised for the Montreal hospital effort is filtered through the club’s provincial body -- the Wa Wa Shriners.

Attending the Prince Albert Shrine Club’s latest meeting on Friday, Wa Wa Shriners Pontenate (leader) Bill Forrest outlined the Montreal hospital effort’s ins and outs for club members.

Montreal’s existing Shriners Hospital for Children was built in 1925 and is 89,000 square feet in size.

The new building, which broke ground earlier this year, will stand at 207,000 square feet, and will see the number of operating rooms double to four and include additional space for research, rehabilitation services and other things centred on improving the lives of children.

“It’s all about delivering exceptional care to exceptional kids,” Forrest concluded.

Coming in at a total cost of about $130 million, almost $114 million had been raised as of Tuesday. The building is currently under construction and is expected to open some time in late 2015.

“We can truly be proud of our new Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal,” Forrest said.

“There is nothing -- nothing more uplifting than visiting a Shriners Hospital for Children. I’ve had the pleasure of going to several, and every time I go I come back with a big lump in my throat to see what the doctors are doing.”

But, what does Prince Albert have to do with a hospital all the way in Montreal?

Although there are hospitals in Saskatchewan that can take on most residents’ needs, the 22 Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in North America narrow in on specific needs that their teams of medical professionals excel at.

It’s all about delivering exceptional care to exceptional kids Bill Forrest

At the Shriners’ only Canadian hospital, in Montreal, they excel at treating children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate.

“The doctors there are trained in certain things, and it’s amazing what they do, Forrest said. “I’ve seen children exit the Montreal hospital who I never thought would lead normal lives.”

Everything comes “regardless of the family’s ability to pay,” Forrest said.

Although Medicare might make this statement redundant in most situations, in this case, it also factors in transportation costs.

As an example, Forrest noted that one youngster in Moose Jaw must take a total of six trips to and from Montreal in a chartered aircraft able to provide ambulatory transport -- a necessary but expensive means of transportation, coming in at a cost of about $80,000.

“We do what we have to do to make that work,” Forrest concluded.


The effort in Prince Albert


The  $12,251.87 the Prince Albert Shrine Club managed to raise for the Wa Wa Shriners’ Montreal hospital effort makes up only part of their annual effort to help youngers in need, Sterling said.

Five volunteers take turns using the Prince Albert Shrine Club van to transport kids and their families to and from Saskatoon for medical treatments.

The club also raises money for individual efforts, such as a project currently in the works to help transport a youth to and from Edmonton for a heart and lung transplant.

The club’s main goal at the moment is to find a local area youth to benefit from either the old or new Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Montreal.

Members are in the process of posting notices in various doctor’s offices in hopes of finding eligible children.

To become a member of the Prince Albert Shrine Club, which currently has about 30 members, one must first be a member of the Masonic Lodge, Sterling said.

For more information on the Prince Albert Shrine Club and its network of hospitals for children, phone Noble Harold Guy at 306-763-2523.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Shriners, Montreal hospital Shriners Hospital for Children Hospitals for Children

Geographic location: Montreal, Saskatoon, Alberta Manitoba Saskatchewan North America Moose Jaw Edmonton

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Recent comments

  • Pamela Wallin's Mom
    December 10, 2013 - 19:10

    Cant tell if actually shriners... or a bunch of businessmen having a wacky hat day.