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Our Community: Lots of diapers? No problem

Sandi Shoup is up to her ears in diapers these days, and she couldn’t be happier. Up until three months ago, the keen environmentalist and parent of seven children, two of them still in diapers, didn’t think much about using reusable cloth diapers.

Sandi Shoup is up to her ears in diapers these days, and she couldn’t be happier.

Up until three months ago, the keen environmentalist and parent of seven children, two of them still in diapers, didn’t think much about using reusable cloth diapers. That is, until she read a post from one of her friends on Facebook about Real Hope For Haiti and how children in orphanages who were getting sick because of a lack of diapers. She learned of the babies in orphanages suffering from diarrhea with plastic bags used in the place of diapers. The more she read, the more appalled she was by the living conditions of the children, mostly in Haiti but also in the Congo and Ethiopia.

“We’re talking about the poorest of the poor,” said Shoup, a work-from-home mom in her early 50s. “I felt compelled to do something to pay it forward.”

As an active member of several cloth diaper groups, she put out the call via Facebook for new, gently used or even damaged diapers. Within a month she had collected over 500 diapers from mothers from all over Vancouver Island.

“We formed a diaper train,” explained Shoup. “People would pass on their donation to somebody who was coming to Victoria, who would then pass it to the next person, until it arrived on my doorstep.”

People have donated diapers, toys and other baby necessities. Money to ship it to Jake’s Diapers, an organization in the U.S. who will ship the diapers overseas, was raised through diaper raffles and cash donations.

Her success has resulted in organizations asking her to ask her donors for other necessities, such as light clothing. Perhaps the saddest request was for tiny funeral gowns for the children who succumbed to disease, malnutrition or neglect.

Shoup continues to collect diapers and other needed items for future shipments. She doesn’t have a web page, an office or staff.

“I’m a one-person show,” she said. “I’m just a conduit for all the folks that have chosen to help out.”

For more information, go to her Facebook page, Diapers for Haiti or call 250-217-2251.


Mental-health award for Courtnall family

The Courtnall family was recently honoured with a Transforming Lives Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation for their support of mental health in Victoria.

Geoff, Russ, Bruce and Cheryl Courtnall grew up with first-hand knowledge with mental illness, watching their father Archie struggle with depression. His suicide at age 45 left his wife to raise the children, between the ages of 10 and 17, on her own.

Geoff and Russ went on to successful careers with the National Hockey League and Bruce in business. But they never forgot the impact of the illness nor the lack of awareness and services around mental health.

In their father’s memory, the brothers organized the Courtnall Celebrity Classic, raising more than $3 million in the process. The funds have resulted in the creation of the Archie Courtnall Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital. The centre offers regional psychiatric emergency services, providing intensive treatment and crisis intervention for patients arriving in emergency with psychiatric disorders.

The brothers have also been advocates for better understanding of the disease, in the belief that other lives can be saved by tackling the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“It’s been a great chance to help others, and that was instilled in us by our father,” said Bruce Courtnall. “We’re just carrying that torch.”

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation has presented Transforming Lives Awards since 1993. The awards honour individuals who have faced mental illness and addiction with dignity and perseverance. By sharing their stories, award recipients and nominees alike help break down the stigma that surrounds mental health.

For more information, go to the website or


Service recognized with Our Place meal

The Royal Bank of Canada wanted to recognize Howard Liptrot for his 40 years of service with a party — but the veteran banker demurred, choosing instead to share his good fortune with those who had none.

On Wednesday, Liptrot, a dozen of his colleagues and his friend, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, donated and served breakfast to clients of Our Place.

“I’ve been very lucky to work for such a wonderful institution for most of my life,” said Liptrot. “I’ve always believed in giving back. I don’t need a big party when I know the family members at Our Place will enjoy it so much more. My fellow bankers may feel a bit out of their comfort zone, but this is such a great way for them to witness, and share in, all the wonderful work that Our Place does on a daily basis.”

The community centre’s Sponsor-A-Breakfast program is a way for local businesses and individuals to connect with the most vulnerable citizens of Greater Victoria. The program provides a nutritious, cooked meal for over 300 people for $500, with the sponsors invited to serve the meal. For more information, go to the website


Strawberries and Mustard go together

Clients of the Mustard Seed food bank will receive a pleasant surprise in their food hampers this week, as 80 slats of fresh-picked strawberries get distributed among needy families and individuals.

The generous donation by Derek and Debbie Scott from Oldfield Orchard comes at a time when the food bank is notoriously low on perishable items, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. The value of the donation is around $4,000, a sizable donation for a smaller, independent farm.

“We are very grateful for the long-standing relationship we enjoy with Oldfield Orchard and especially at this time of the year when stocks are very low in perishable food items,” said Brent Palmer, food bank director. “Oldfield Farm is a small local, family-owned and run business and the Mustard Seed recognizes the importance of purchasing and supporting local farmers as food security is a constant area of focus for the island.”

The Scotts mentioned that they had enjoyed a good growing season with a good harvest, so they were motivated to give back. For more information, go to


Snorkel relay raises funds for record swim

Local divers are taking part in a fundraising snorkelling relay on Saturday to help raise funds for a colleague in the scuba-diving community selected to be part of a 10-woman relay team attempting to set a world record by snorkelling across the Northwest Passage.

Françoise Gervais, a deep-water researcher with Ocean Networks Canada, has been selected to be part of an all-woman group that plans to swim 3,000 kilometres in 100 days in the frigid Arctic waters.

The expedition will learn more about sea-ice reduction and gather new information from a climate that has previously been too harsh to allow access for much sea traffic, let alone snorkellers. The team will bring along a portable sea lab where water samples and creature collections will be taken throughout the journey.

Gervalis’ friends and colleagues will take any form of support they can get, be it financial, emotional in the form of cheering or just sending positive thoughts through social media for the team.

The local relay, with a team of eight local women in the dive community, will enter the water at Mill Bay at 9 a.m. and arrive at the Brentwood Bay Marina (approximately 13 kilometres) at about 3:45 p.m. For more information, go to saanich-inlet-snorkeling-relay.html.



Do it for Dads walk today

Help raise funds for research and treatment options for prostate cancer at the Do it for Dads walk or run today. The annual walk, which always coincides with Father’s Day, is a fundraiser for the Prostate Centre, one of 70 prostate cancer support groups across Canada.

The event is an opportunity for the community to come together for information and to support and celebrate the men in our lives.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men. It is also the third leading cause of death from cancer for men.

The non-profit organization, which serves Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, support men who are concerned about their prostate health, or who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The centre offers personalized support and counselling, treatment information as well as support group meetings. No medical referrals are necessary and services are free.

Proceeds of the event go directly to supporting local men and their families.

Registration is $35 (or free with the collection of a minimum of $150 in donations). Registration starts at 8, the event begins at 10 a.m. at Royal Roads University, 2005 Sooke Rd. For more information, go to


Coast Capital aids community projects

Employees from Coast Capital Insurance Services, a subsidiary of Western Financial Group, raised more than $12,000 at the annual Support the Cause walk last month. The five-kilometre walk raised money for the company’s charitable arm, the Western Communities Foundation. This was the 10th year of the event.

In addition to employee fundraising, Western donated $50 on behalf of every employee that participated.

The foundation was founded in 2001 with a mission to help foster community pride by supporting projects in the communities where the company operates. To date, the event has raised more than $1 million.

“What an incredible result for an incredible cause,” said Mark Dutton, president of Coast Capital Insurance Services. “The support from the community has been overwhelming. We’re so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve this year.”

For more information, go to westernfinancial

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