GOODWILL: Speroway

The infamous philanthropist/industrialist John D. Rockerfeller once said, “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.”  One may think that bold and arrogant but it is by passing on “˜what is the right thing to do' that keeps charitable organizations such as Speroway alive and breathing.

Speroway, a Canadian-based relief organization, respond to the needs of children and their families in Canada and around the world, by providing food, medicine, education and other essentials with compassion, integrity and love. Originating from Feed the Children, reputable Burlington philanthropist Ken Dick, was asked to formulate a new edition and in 2004 Speroway was born. Operating out of Guelph, Dick, a seasoned chartered accountant, became president.

Speroway has since spiralled to become a major universal charity providing for those in need globally and here at home, and together with its partner organizations distributed more than 135 million pounds of food to numerous countries. 

Relying on donors and local volunteers, Speroway is as devoted to helping Canadians and people within our own community as they are internationally. Dedicated to First Nations communities, they provide not only food, clothing and basic needs but have developed the Bunk Bed Program to give a comfortable night to children  who were sleeping on floors. Locally, Speroway  developed the Food/Hygiene Box Program that provides 30 pounds of boxed food and supplies  to families in Toronto, Hamilton and many in Halton. This year alone, Speroway distributed more than $11 million in food and supplies across Canada and overseas through 110 distribution partners.

Speroway's name originates from the Latin word for hope. Hope is no small word.  It is with hope that people like Dr. Channy Muhn have changed the way they live and think so they may give of themselves and make a difference. Since 2007, teams of volunteers such as Dr. Muhn have travelled relentlessly to Central America ““ providing much needed primary medical and dental care for more than 25,000 people in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti.  “We have 25 to 40 people on a mission, about half of them from the Halton region,” explains Muhn. “We bring supplies…food, clothes and prescriptions. Our last trip we tended to 4,900 patients in eight days.”

Dr. Muhn is an esteemed dermatologist who specializes in skin cancers and reconstructive surgery. Founder of Dermetics, a full service dermatology clinic in Burlington, Muhn willfully closes up shop to travel to third world countries. With five trips under his belt and another forthcoming, he selflessly leaves his income and five children to take care of those less fortunate.

Eager to give but not take credit, Muhn speaks highly of Speroway's president. “Ken Dick's compassion is contagious. I met him and was on a trip before I knew it. When I came back to normalcy, I discovered normal took on a new, different definition. I looked at my children and realized it was by chance we were not reversed. Every person is as valued by God.”

A homegrown organization, Speroway does not advertise. Dependent on the good will of regular people, it is by word of mouth and the kindness they bring that the job gets done.

Speroway teams are largely comprised of professionals such as doctors, dentists, paramedics, nurses, dental assistants and other support workers. Any one person can go on a trip for the expense of a holiday. One need just apply. “My wife is a teacher,” says Muhn. “She came with me and assisted in the pharmacy, helped pack and distribute. Neighbours have come and helped with crowd control…we always need people.”

Currently on Speroway's front burner is the recovery of Haiti. Having arrived just nine days after the 2010 earthquake, today they are building a 1,950 sq-ft medical/dental clinic to treat children from 30 orphanages.

Speroway simply does the right thing, and truth be told, we all know it's the right thing to do. As the fine doctor says, “We manage from the hearts of good people. Every donation allows for the organization to keep reaching out. Though a drop in the bucket, it is with one drop at a time we go with love.” 

Do the right thing; then tell someone else.