Rotarian Ruth Mathieson was pleased to introduce the guest speaker on January 19th, 2023, Marianne McQuillan.  For over 20 years Marianne has been an excellent fundraiser for not for profit organizations, securing major gifts and planned gift commitments.  She connects the donors to ensure they remain focused on the mission and stay connected to causes that matter to them.  Marianne has worked in Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, Ghana, Morocco and Norway.  Since May of 2022, she has been the Leadership Gifts Officer for Casey House in Toronto.  Her parents live in Belleville so we are fortunate to meet Marianne in person.
 
In the 1980's the appearance of AIDS put fear into many, stoked by the media and ostracizing many people.  In 1988 Casey House opened, a place for people with AIDS to be cared for in a hospice-like setting.  Casey House was supported by a group of people who wanted to support those affected by the HIV/AIDS virus.  The tide was turning and there was success through medication to prolong lives and prevent the disease.  There are 65,000 Canadians who have or who are living with HIV so support is still very much needed.  Patients come from all walks of life, in all sorts of areas.  HIV/AIDS does not discriminate and attacks females, people of colour, new immigrants, Indigenous, people who do drugs, inmates.  Compassion and care are essential in order to support the whole person.   There is no cure, but the focus is to bring the viral load down. 
 
Casey House is set up as a hospital serving in-patients as well as a day program.  There are 14 in hospital rooms and they are currently at full capacity on a 24/7 basis.  The health of the patients is fragile.  Casey House also serves as a hospice for end of life care, but their biggest focus is on their out-patient program where they provide medical services, social support, government services, hot lunches Monday to Friday and groups of interest such as music, books, gardens and gay clubs.  Casey House is very proud of how they are managed, an accredited organization and recognized by MacLean's Magazine in the Top 10 charities.  They continually strive for excellence.  The Rotary Club of Belleville has supported Casey House for 10 years and a total donation of $36,000 over that time frame.  Marianne acknowledged and thanked the club sincerely for this long-term financial commitment.  Seventy-Five (75%) of their work is out-patient and these programs are not supported by the Ministry of Health so donations are still sought and imperative to the programs offered to provide people with a better life, to reduce the stigma and to ensure COVID does not add to the disease of HIV/AIDS.
 
Past President Ken Dickson thanked Marianne for the information provided and for the caring work that is done at Casey House.
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