How to avoid Christmas misgivings


by admin on December 15, 2010

By Martti Lahtinen

Kitchen bridge is wonderful social interaction, especially when the deals are interspersed with issues, rumours, gossip, innuendo and jocular bull, of which there is no shortage in Chelsea, Quebec. But, on occasion between hands, a player finds himself shuffling defensively when facing a run on his side suit: You’re with the Low Down, why don’t you do something for QUAIL House?

The bid seemingly came out of nowhere, prompted perhaps by the imagined strains of the Angel’s Share concert at the United Church up Mill Road, which the foursome had elected to forgo with some reluctance.

The response – What’s new with QUAIL? Where’s the hook in the story? Did the House burn down? – was admittedly weak, but it left a player preferring a rebid to a pass.

In news terms, there’s really nothing new, and the 20th anniversary of the not-for-profit organization, whose acronym is a soft, inviting abridging of the cumbersome Quebec Association for Independent Living, remains distant. But it’s an event the Low Down would surely trumpet with a flourish.

It would hit the high notes, tracing its beginnings, which found roots with one intellectually-challenged young lady facing the prospect of leaving the community because there existed no haven for mature, English-speaking adults who needed shelter that would circumvent nomadic stints at foster homes and the emotion-draining prospect of living with their aging parents.

The historical refresher would trace the serendipitous path of QUAIL house becoming reality, with the chance discovery of the perfect Ch. Bois Joli site, the offer to purchase backed financially by committed community members and funding falling in place much like dominos.

The letters patent issued to QUAIL on Sept. 30, 1993 bear the following names: Sally Landon, Warren Major, Shane Parker, John Palmer and Jennifer Douglas as provisional administrators of the corporation, although many others from Chelsea and Wakefied contributed on other levels from Day 1. Shane Parker, the Priest for the Anglican Parish of Chelsea-Lascelles-Wakefield, was a formidible driving force throughout the early days.

Sure, there were hurdles, but they weren’t daunting enough to halt the onrush – not exactly a Chelsea hallmark – toward a good thing: living space for five permanent residents, a come-and-go respite for one more individual, and the caregivers.

The look back would underscore QUAIL House establishing itself as a community jewel from Day 1. It could not overstate the work of the original founders, who at the time had no connection to mentally-challenged family members facing a bleak housing hereafter, to make it all happen. They saw only a community need. The far-sighted concept trumps all.

That view, unencumbered by political and religious leanings, has sustained QUAIL House for almost two decades. The annual fundraiser dinner at L’Oree du Bois, the Strawberry Social, the sale of jams and jellies, private donations and a cut of the proceeds from events such as Angel’s Share help top up the funds needed to sustain the haven.

Meanwhile, the message here a week ago exhorted area residents to restrict their charitable urges to causes within a 100-mile limit of the Gatineau Hills. QUAIL House qualifies on that score – in spades – and there are no Christmas misgivings on the part of a kitchen bridge kibitzer to redouble that bid.