For the past two years I have had the privilege of serving as Commodore of Cow Hill Yacht Club. I passed the torch to the very capable Mike Applegate in November. I would like to thank the Cow Hill Board of Directors and the communities we serve for their unwavering support and kindness.
Cow Hill has shared our financial successes with you since we took on Venetian Festival. I want to share the flip side of raising money and the reason we all work so hard to help those in need. Did you know CHYC has no real overhead? Not one of us gets paid to do all we do nor do we have a physical space where we pay rent, just a PO Box and a storage unit. We kind of like meeting in bars and restaurants, having fun while we work to fund the club’s bank account! We strive to spend as little money as possible running the club so we can preserve funds for those in need.
The first step in the Cow Hill giving process is for us to be made aware of a need in the community. Once we know of a need our Director of Giving, Jude Gemmen vets the request to make sure it fits into our mission statement and is legitimate. If appropriate, she presents the request to the board. We vote via email to approve or decline each request. We fill the request immediately if approved.
Our requests keep increasing which means we appreciate every dollar we take in to continue supporting those in need. Did you know we give to Special Olympics every year? Or that we give bus passes to Interurban riders who have very limited income? Or that we provide food, gas cards and gifts for several families and individuals at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Or that we help seniors who have run out of money make ends meet each month by giving them grocery cards? Or that we help those who serve our tourist industry when they have an unexpected need in the winter months? Or that we send packages to local servicemen overseas? We do so many, many good things yet we don’t share them with you. It is time we stop telling you how much money we make and start telling you how we spend it.
To give you a better understanding of the kinds of requests we’ve filled I would like to discreetly tell you about just one family we helped. The father is a skilled laborer who works lots of overtime to support his family. The mom has many aliments requiring she visit U of M Hospital once a month. They have two young children.
As Thanksgiving approached last year, we learned the father had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (later dropped to stage 3). The young family was devastated emotionally and financially. Getting sick is expensive on top of the stress caused by constant worry. He had life changing surgery, then Chemo. His Chemo treatments made him sick yet he went to work every day and worked as long as he could to provide for his family. On top of all their “normal” bills, they had to make their insurance co-payments and deductible.
We stepped in, trying to make things a little easier. We made a house payment for them, put food on their table for Thanksgiving, Christmas and in between through gift cards and donations of food from members. When Jude brought food to them including real beef and chicken donated by members, mom tearfully thanked her saying said she had run out of ways to serve hot dogs to her family.
We are happy to report this family is back on their feet. Dad’s last scan showed no cancer and mom is back to traveling to U of M every month. The kids are in school and thriving. To this day, I receive texts from mom thanking us and keeping me updated on her family. Her gratitude is so sincere. Her resolve is to help others who need a “hand up” in any way she can. This is only one of the many stories of those we’ve been privileged to assist in some of their darkest hours.
The next time Cow Hill Yacht Club is throwing a party for Venetian, Chili Cook Off or some other event or if we just plain asking for donations, please gives freely knowing the money we collect goes directly to help families like this one.
As past Commodore and current board member, I thank you on behalf of myself, our board, our members and our clients for allowing us to continue our passion to support those who need a hand up.