A special blog post by Pat Hogue, a Seva donor and volunteer in Winnipeg.
Pat's story shows the spirit of Seva. My first exposure to Seva was through attending a slide presentation by Brian Harris called Tibetan Voices. I remember being enthralled by Brian’s photographs and by the stories he told. I was impressed by the work being done by Seva and amazed at how much good even a small donation could make. I bought my first Seva calendar at that presentation. I received a follow-up postcard from Seva. The image on the card was of the hands of a Tibetan refugee couple. A powerful image burned its way into my heart. Life continued to roll along and, other than buying calendars, I didn’t explore other ways to involve myself with Seva Canada.
"Tibetan Couple" by Brian Harris
Early in 2011, I retired. I had been an Early Childhood Education teacher for 21 years. Knowing I would have time on my hands, I decided to set myself some retirement goals. One of these was to teach myself to make artisan bread. I have always loved to bake and was anxious to explore a new way to make bread. This method involved no kneading. Once I tried it, I was hooked. Flour was flying around my kitchen as I baked up a storm. I was greeted warmly in the neighbourhood as I delivered “extra” bread as my husband and I couldn’t eat all the bread I was baking!
Retirement gives you time to think… One thing I thought about was making a will. I thought about organizations where a legacy gift would be put to good use. Somehow, Seva came to mind. I checked out Seva Canada’s website and read about Seva’s Legacy 20/20 campaign. I took a survey on the website and requested more information as I liked Seva Canada’s vision, mission and approach. Seva Canada seemed to be a “good fit” for me. I volunteer with newcomers to Canada who are learning English. Some of them come from the countries where Seva is currently working. Another strong tug to my heartstrings was the fact that Seva helps children. I had never realized that cataracts could affect children. When I received my information package, Seva’s Development Director, had included a personalized letter. Also in the package was a postcard story about a woman in Nepal. Once again, I was deeply touched by the image on the postcard - a woman looking at a child while tenderly touching his cheek.
This Nepali mother is seeing her child for the first time after her sight was restored by Seva through cataract surgery. She and her husband trekked for 10 days to reach the Seva eye camp.The operations were done my Dr. Marty Spencer, an ophthalmologist, volunteer and Seva board member who has taught cataract surgery in the developing world for Seva for 25 years. This mother told Dr. Spencer, "You have given me divine eyes." Photo courtesy of Dr. Marty Spencer
Several months later, I received a copy of the Fall/Winter 2011 newsletter. In it, there was information about setting up Personal Giving Pages. In addition, I read about Drew Lyall, a then 13-year-old boy, who had been fundraising for Seva since he was 7 years old. When I read about Drew, I thought, "If this child could raise funds, there must be something a 'well-seasoned' woman could do to support the cause!" I sat and thought about the skills that I have. At the time, I was waiting for another batch of bread to rise. Suddenly I realized that I knew how to bake bread. I also realized that I could teach people to make bread. Once a teacher, always a teacher! As soon as I put those two thoughts together, the name “Dough for $$$Dough$$$” popped into my mind, dollar signs and all!
Drew Lyall with bottles he has collected to raise funds to give sight to children and adults in Africa and Nepal
I talked with two friends and asked their opinion about whether or not they thought people would donate to Seva in return for me teaching them how to make artisan bread. They encouraged me to try. At this point, I thought I should discuss the idea with my husband, as he would certainly be affected by this somewhat unorthodox fundraising idea. He enthusiastically encouraged me to go for it.
My next step was to contact Seva to see what they thought about the idea. I talked with Heather and I remember saying that I wasn’t sure that I would raise much money, but that I at least wanted to try it. I wondered how much people would be willing to donate to participate in a three-hour workshop.
Pat Hogue in her kitchen in Winnipeg making dough for $$ so that blind people far away will see again. Photo courtesy of Judi Moxley
Four at a time, participants would get a hands-on experience learning to make artisan bread and then get to eat bread and focaccia, drink tea or coffee, listen to me talk about why I was involved in fundraising for Seva, and take a loaf of bread they had made home with them! I would charge $5.00 for supplies and participants would be on an honour system to donate to Seva Canada. I hoped that most people would give at least $20.00. (Secretly I hoped that if I were a very good teacher, they would donate more!) On March 6th, I sent out 60 email invitations. I hoped that 25% of the people I had invited would want to support my cause. With Heather’s help with setting up my giving page, I set my goal at $300. Within days I had a list of 28 people wanting to attend my Dough for $$$Dough$$$ workshops!
Pat's friend Gillian Torpey shapes a loaf of no-knead bread in one of Pat's bread-making workshops to benefit Seva's eye care programs. Photo courtesy of Pat Hogue
On March 17th, I held my pilot workshop in my small kitchen with four friends who graciously gave me feedback and helped me work out kinks in the delivery of the lesson. My first “official” session was held on March 31st.
It has been an amazing experience. I am getting to spend time with old friends. Old friends are bringing their friends along with them, so I am making new friends! Women are bringing sisters, daughters are bringing mothers, and wives are bringing husbands. There is something very elemental about sharing bread with people. There’s not only the wonderful aroma of bread wafting through the house, but a wonderful sense of community.
Donna Giesbrecht and her mother, Marlene Wiesner, enjoy a loaf of freshly baked bread following the workshop. Photo courtesy of Pat Hogue
I am overwhelmed by the positive response and support I’ve received for this offbeat fundraising idea. Needless to say, I have had to revise my fundraising goal. Always cautious, the goal has crept from $300 to $500, to $700, and then to $1000. On May 26th, I held my seventh workshop. More people are waiting to join me in my kitchen. I will continue to make $$$Dough$$$ for Seva Canada until everyone who is interested in learning has had a chance to do so. Thanks to the very generous people in my life, I have decided to go out on a limb and have raised my goal to $1500!
The brown paper bag reads, "Thank you for your support of Seva. Pat" Photo of Pat Hogue courtesy of Judi Moxley
"The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place." Mother Teresa To support to Pat's Dough for $$$Dough$$$ campaign, visit her giving page.