Posted by Bill MacKay
Handicapped Children’s Committee -- two of the Belleville Rotarians active in the early work for crippled children were Charles J. Symons, Committee Chairman, and Dr. Van Blakslee, M.D.  Items gleaned from a story in the Belleville Intelligencer reporting on Mr. Symons report to the club in 1934 reveal that over 500 crippled children had received treatment through Belleville Rotary.  Many had been fully restored to health and strength, all had been helped, and Rotary had followed up each case with a helpful interest in the education and welfare of the child.  One boy had received 1,141 days of treatment in the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.  Thousands of dollars had been raised and spent by the Club and the work was being pushed with vigor and earnestness.
 
The report concluded with the thanks of the Club to Dr. Van Blakslee and Dr. Chant [eye specialist], J. A. McFee for optical work, Dr. J. Guthridge for dental services, C.A. Cameron and Archie Cameron for legal services and the entire membership of the Club for financial and other assistance. Through the decades of the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties, numerous active Rotarians had served on the Crippled [Handicapped] Children’s Committee and the Easter Seal Committee under the leadership of many able chairmen.  At least four of these had given ser-vice beyond that of the local Club’s service to handicapped children.
 
The following deserve special mention:
  • In the late fifties and early sixties, Fred Adsett served as a Director on the Board of the Ontario Society and kept the provincial activities and goals prominently before Belleville Rotarians.  He was followed by Enos David, who not only served as chairman of the Crippled Children’s Committee and later of the Easter Seals Committee but served very actively on the Board of the Ontario Society.  At a board meeting in the late seventies, he urged the Society to develop a focus on prevention as well as treatment of crippling conditions.  He had taken Doug Grant with him to that meeting.
  • Doug Grant took up the challenge of fostering prevention and for the next couple of years was District Chairman overseeing the six clubs serving Crippled Children in the Quinte area.  He spoke vigorously about prevention at every opportunity.  He interviewed Conn Smythe and urged the Conn Smythe Foundation to devote some of its research effort to prevention.  Doug gave a substantial donation to the Foundation to this end.  Shortly thereafter a new department of prevention was added to the Society’s endeavours.  The initiative and persistence of two Belleville Rotarians had borne fruit.
  • The mantle of District Chairman then fell on the willing and able shoulders of George Smith, who continued to act as liaison between the Ontario Board of which he was an active member and the associated Clubs of this area.
Belleville Rotary had been well served on both the local and provincial scene by these dedicated Rotarians. To cover the programs, fundraising projects, stories of the children assisted by the Rotary Club of Belleville would take a book itself.  Some figures will help outline the scope of the Club’s efforts, though: in excess of a quarter of a million dollars, for work with handicapped children.  That figure would now top $300,000.  In 1985 alone, the club raised $32,268 during the Easter Seal campaign and $4,368 during the Superthon, surpassing the 1984 tally of $29,455.  For 1985, the club had an active caseload, in the Quinte area of 56 children, for an expenditure of $10,384. “This vital support provided specialized nursing, transportation to treatment centres, re-search and prevention programs and an opportunity to experience the fun of summer camp,” said 1984 Chairman, Don Holmes.  “It also assisted in provision of wheelchairs, braces and artificial limbs to help each child reach his or her highest level of ability.”