A perfect match at St. Francis Memorial Hospital

Combermere man gives big incentive to donate to x-ray fund.


BARRY’s BAY – Diagnostic imaging staff sit with the old x-ray machine located in St. Francis Memorial Hospital. Pictured, left to right: Technologists Alison Bishop, Stacey Nopper, Faye Matthews and D.I. Clerk Anita Phanenhour. The hospital hopes to raise money to replace the aging equipment.                                       Photo Christine Hudder

Staff Reporter

– A Combermere man is hoping his handmade rocking horse will inspire the community to donate to the St. Francis Memorial Hospital’s x-ray fund.

On April 3, Greg Hoare donated the carefully-designed wooden toy to the hospital foundation.

Board representative Darlene Sernoskie said the W. Garfield Weston Foundation’s Match It program has agreed to match any new financial donations that are made from now until September 1 towards the new x-ray machine. This means that a $20 donation will instantly become a $40 donation.

The Weston Foundation will match every dollar up to a maximum of $50,000.
As an extra bonus, anyone who donates to the Match It program will have their name put into a draw to win the rocking horse.

“Every time you donate, it’s an opportunity to win,” Sernoskie explained.

A carpenter by trade, Hoare said he didn’t even know about the Match It program when he has originally started the horse. But he wanted to do something for the local hospital that would generate community support for the facility.

He is no stranger to donations like these.

“It’s something I got into a number of years ago,” he said.

It was his friends from the States whose daughter works at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee that encouraged him to donate a rocking horse to the hospital. Rather than raffling it off, the children’s hospital decided to keep it for the patients in the exam rooms.

Although he has made similar donations to other children’s hospitals, his most successful raffle happened when he donated a rocking horse to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. The foundation managed to raise $8,500 in donations, and a donor won the prize.

While he doesn’t have grandchildren of his own, he has always enjoyed working with wood and designing different crafts.

“I got into doing various wood crafts, and a rocking horse just happened to hit,” he said.

Sometimes he sells his masterpieces, and other times he donates them.
He has utilized the x-ray machine at St. Francis Memorial Hospital and knows how important it is to the community.

“I had more x-rays taken here than I can remember,” he said. “So I am hoping that as the word gets out that people are going to support it.”

The horse he donated to St. Francis is made out mostly of ash wood. Its seat is made out of maple and the accents on the main and tail are walnut.

Hoare said it is very stable, and even has a little booster step that can be removed for older children.

It took Hoare around a month and a half to complete.

He made a conservative estimate when he guessed the value of the handmade horse to be around $1,000.

“When I first started making horses like this, I was making them out of oak, and I was charging $250 per horse,” he said. “In Ottawa at that time I was told that a same kind of horse that was made out of oak was going for $1,000.”

Hoare said he predicts the St. Francis will generate more of a profit than a simple raffle because people are more inclined to give a larger donation instead of purchasing one ticket.

“The way I look at it; you sell one ticket for $2 or you get a donation for $5,” he said.
Sernoskie said either way, the hospital will accept any size of donation. She said the draw will be made around Labour Day weekend.

She also noted that anyone who has previously contributed to the Match It program will be entered into the draw.

Story continues in the Aprl 12, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.