Just when you think Stouffville’s sense of community may be lost in the subdivisions and plazas rising up at all corners, your faith can be renewed.
Trust me. It happened in a church gymnasium Friday night.
What appeared to be another invite to the rubber-chicken circuit was much more. If not life-altering, definitely spiritually uplifting.
The Stouffville Igoma Partnership is that spirit.
Since 2003, teams of local volunteers have raised money and even travelled to Igoma, in the African nation of Tanzania, to work on health care and school projects. They’ve put up buildings, renovated others and installed new hope in residents.
Kids are going to school. Lives are being extended. People are smiling who otherwise wouldn’t, on both continents. All because of this partnership out of some place called Stouffville.
“Stouffville is better known over there than it is to some people in Markham,” SIP chairperson Peter Neufeld told the 300 people at the charity’s annual fundraising dinner at EastRidge Evangelical Missionary Church on Tenth Line Friday.
The affable Ballantrae man, in his African togs, received a standing ovation.
The dinner raised an astounding $40,000, enough to cover much of the charity’s budget for the next year. That’s big money to an organization that spends only five per cent of what it takes in on administration costs.
The crowd covered several walks of Whitchurch-Stouffville life and beyond. Churches, the chamber of commerce, businesses, town council and service clubs were all represented.
So were the folks who sponsor children or pay their own way to travel to Igoma to work under the African sun every February.
More SIPs could be on deck. Other communities are interested in the template created by the partnership.
All from a place called Stouffville.
By Jim Mason
Editor, Stouffville Sun-Tribune