The Lions Camp Dorset is not a name that most people are familiar with, but for kidney dialysis patients in Ontario, it’s a safe haven.
Kidney dialysis patients live a life tied to their homes. Treatments lasting several hours and occurring several times a week make it impossible for the patients and their families to have a vacation of any kind – that’s the reason why volunteers from the St. Jacobs Lions Club put in the extra hours of volunteer work at Camp Dorset.
The patient resort, which opened in 1978 in Haliburton, allows Ontario dialysis patients and their families to spend a week in one of 14 three-bedroom cottages, 15 bachelor apartments or six trailer/camping spaces and receive their dialysis treatments at the state-of-the-art onsite hospital under the care of two Camp Dorset dialysis nurses, as well as staff from their home hemodialysis unit.
Each spring and fall, in addition to their annual monetary support, a group of four or six St. Jacobs Lions travel to Dorset to volunteer their time in whatever manner is required.
“We never know from one time to the next what we will be doing,” said Dennis Lougheed, St. Jacobs Lions Club member and a volunteer at this fall’s trip to the camp. “We have done everything from rake leaves to paint decks, to build decks; it just depends on what they need.”
The St. Jacobs Lions have been involved with Camp Dorset almost since its inception.
“We have had members going up there since they were cutting roads in the bush,” said Lougheed. “Our involvement with the camp is a longstanding thing in terms of labour, volunteer time, donation of money – all that stuff.”
This year, the group was given the task of helping to reconstruct one of the cabins that had been weathered with age and needed updating. Lions Club members Juergen Lamers, Ross Ruppel, Orville Kocher and Lougheed helped in the reconstruction of one of the patient cabins by completing the rewiring and redoing the interior drywall.
“The cabins they had were typical northern Ontario cottages, set on four corner posts, up off the ground,” explained the long-time volunteer. “You get all the dampness issues, the rodent issues, the mold issues, none of which are particularly good for kidney dialysis patients with jeopardized immune systems. The rebuilding started a few years ago and we have seen it come a long way.”
Although the club is not directly given instruction on how to do the tasks they are asked to do, Lougheed says the various talents of members ensures that someone almost always has the knowledge needed to get the job done.
“People who are Lions and Lionesses come from an incredibly diverse background – you have everything from lawyers to doctors to teachers to bricklayers,” he said. “There is always somebody out there who has got skills which fit the job.”
The St. Jacobs Lions Club meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Woolwich Community Centre at 7 p.m. For more information or to get involved with the St Jacobs Lions Club, please contact Ross Ruppel at 519-664-2954 or visit them on the Web at www.stjacobslions.org.