By Gordon Sinclair Jr. Originally Published in the Winnipeg Free Press, July 18, 2017 

Let there be sight....As more and more boomers look forward to retirement, some struggle with what in the world they’ll do next.

Not Pat Hogue.

Pat holding up a loaf of bread she made

Photo Credit: Gordon Sinclair Jr./ WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Pat and her husband, Moe Hogue, are longtime friends of mine. Moe was my football and baseball coach when I was a teenager.

When Pat retired six years ago from her position in Red River College’s early childhood education program, she created two goals for life after work. I mean other than doing a little more work of a different kind.

Her first goal was to teach herself how to make yummy artisan bread.

Her second goal was to make a will.

But since she and Moe don’t have children, Pat felt she needed to find a charity to which she could give her portion of their estate. She chose a relatively obscure one known as Seva Canada, for reasons we’ll get to later.

Meanwhile, Pat went to the library and checked out books on how to make artisan bread.

It was after she mastered the art of bread making that she set a third goal.

Pat smiling at camera while holding a Seva gift of sight catalogue and loaf of bread

Photo Credit: Gordon Sinclair Jr./ WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

So it was that on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, Pat invited a small group of friends into the little kitchen of her cozy West End home for the first trial class in artisan bread making, steering funds to her chosen charity through donations from her class in lieu of lesson fees.

She called it the Dough for $$$Dough$$$ Artisan Bread Workshop for Seva Canada.

So what’s Seva?

Nepali girl wearing refractive error test lenses

Nepali girl receiving a refractive error test 

"The word ‘seva’ means service," Pat explained.

"My fundraising project," she added, "is my service to help others in the developing world who have so much less than I do."

Charity Intelligence Canada, which gives Seva a four-star rating, says this about the organization:

"Founded in 1982, Seva Canada Society (Seva) is a Vancouver-based charity that provides eye care for people in developing countries. Seva’s mission is to restore the eyesight of blind people and to prevent blindness for those in need — women, children and people living in extreme poverty and isolation."

It states that "blindness and visual impairment are largely solvable problems as doctors can prevent or cure 80 per cent of blindness cases. Two-thirds of the world’s blind are women. The World Bank has called treating blindness one of the most cost-effective health interventions."

Pat also chose Seva because they do a lot with the comparative little they receive as a medium-sized operation.

According to Seva, a single cataract surgery only costs $50.

Seva also reports it has restored the sight of nearly four million people through surgeries and has provided eye care services to millions more.

All of that was news to me — and what Pat has accomplished since is an eye-opener, too.

Pat's fundraising efforts

Initially, Pat hoped she could attract enough students to make $300 for Seva.

But, over the years, as friends started telling friends about Pat’s bread-making workshops — and those other friends started telling other friends — the classes kept rolling. All the students pay is $5 for the baking supplies and then donate whatever they want, either via Seva’s website or in pre-addressed envelopes Pat hands out. She doesn’t advertise — it’s all by word of mouth — and she only accepts people she knows or who are known to others who have been in her kitchen.

"It only happens when someone asks," Pat said.

A few months ago, a small group of men asked. They’re part of a couples dinner club that has been going for decades, so I guess in that context making artisan bread makes sense.

4 men smiling and holding bread they made in Pat's workshop

Some of the participants from Pat's workshop in April 2017

Anyway, five years later, using that simple formula, Pat has done 63 workshops with 233 students.

As a result, that $300 goal was passed long ago.

As of this week Pat Hogue, working out of her little kitchen, has raised more than $20,000 for her chosen charity. And hopefully, like the artisan bread she’s still making, that total will keep rising.

Visit Pat's fundraising page here

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