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WCS is serving up the laughs to go with lunch at Nov. 8 fundraiser

Feeling stressed, sad, or just hungry? Woolwich Community Services has the solution for you. They’re bringing back their Lunch and Laughter event on Nov. 8 with a poor boy’s style lunch and a talk from Dr. Ken Shonk.

Shonk retired from practicing family medicine in Waterloo in 2007 but continues to heal through the power of humour. He’s spoken at more than 900 events about the importance of laughter and how we can better integrate it into our daily lives.

WCS’ community resource coordinator, Leigh-Anne Quinn, says the 2014 rendition of the Lunch and Laughter event where Neil Aitchison was the guest speaker, sold out.

“Two years ago there was a need to have an additional fundraising event to raise funds. This year there’s an event that we usually participate in which was the Grand River Amazing Race, and it didn’t happen this year and so now we’re holding a fundraiser to offset the money we would have raised with that fundraiser,” Quinn explained.

Shonk comes highly recommended. She looked into the message he provides and decided he was a good fit for WCS. They rely heavily on donations and fundraising initiatives like this one. The funds raised will go to the programs they offer.

“We reach out to a lot of businesses with the thought that they could treat their staff to a lunch, to get out of the office for an hour, to go have a meal, have a laugh and then get back to work. It’s also open to the general public as well. It’s open to anyone who wants to come out for a lunch, support a great cause and have a couple laughs,” she said.

All the food is being donated by local churches and businesses. Gale Presbyterian Church, where it’s being held, is providing serving staff as well as setting up and tearing down for the event.

“We live in a supportive community where churches and businesses come together to help where help is needed,” Quinn said.

Shonk will briefly discuss the physiology, biochemistry, anatomy classification and then the uses of humour. He says he doesn’t consider himself a comic or a researcher.

“Where I think I fall in is in the uses of humour in increasing communication and relationships and dealing with chronic illness, even with death and dying,” Shonk said.

It’ll be an informative talk, but he expects there will be plenty of laughs.

He says when he asks audiences how they feel after they’ve laughed they reply they feel more relaxed, compassionate or become a better listener.

“There still are a lot of people out there that think if you’re laughing, you’re not productive, you’re not serious, you’re not doing your job and that’s something we have to fight on a regular basis,” Shonk said.

But times are changing. He notes there’s now a textbook called The Psychology of Humor. There are functional MRIs on people laughing to find out what parts of the brain are functioning. Researchers have done biochemical experiments measuring bio-peptides, endorphins and serotonin to find out what happens when we laugh.

He often uses his message to talk to caregivers.

“When you’re talking about dementia, sometimes the focus has to be on the caregivers because a lot of them burn out, they’re very frustrated and it’s very difficult for them. If you lose your caregiver then you’ve got two people that are in trouble. We talk about trying to get things back to basics with a bit of humour,” he said.

He says laughter is a universal uniter and it’s important to give yourself permission to have fun and look for the incongruities in life instead of focusing on the negative.

There are real life uses to laughter since endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller.

Doctors have done laughter therapy with dying patients and found them turning down their morphine pumps because they were increasing their own endorphins.

“If you can find a bit of humour with what you’re dealing with, it means that you’re in control of it. It’s not in control of you,” Shonk said.

Woolwich Community Services’ Lunch and Laughter event is Nov. 8 at Gale Presbyterian Church from 12-1:30 p.m. Entertainer Dr. Ken Shonk presents his “Chuckles Checkup and Mirthful Messages.” Lunch will be a poor boy’s style lunch – homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, hot dogs, beans and bread pudding. Tickets are $35 per ticket or $240 for a table of eight. All proceeds support WCS.

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