Come the 26th of April, local non-profit Melissa’s Sunshine Camp (MSC) will reach a milestone. Founded in 1993, the organization, which is best known for the activities and respite services that it provides to special needs individuals in the area, will host a silent auction to celebrate a quarter of a century of helping locals in need. The event, which will offer up cocktails and appetizers, will take place on the evening of Thursday, April 26th from 4:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Huntingdon’s Salle Alfred Langevin. The organization is currently looking for sponsors and donors with items to auction.
For the past five years, the non-profit has worked out of the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre (HAECC), located at 24 York Street in Huntingdon. Open Monday to Friday, the centre offers services and activities for clients aged 21 years and over. These days, the organization serves over 60 families in the Chateauguay Valley.
According to MSC Special Education Technician Sonia Viau, “The mission of Melissa’s Sunshine Camp was to provide activities and respite services for persons with intellectual disabilities, but the organization has done so much more than that. It has created a community for those people that might not have had the opportunity to find one. The activities we organize give our clients the chance to experience autonomy—to allow them to experience adulthood. This gives our members a sense of belonging, which is one of our main goals.” She also notes that many of their clients are getting older, and there is a lack of resources available to them when they reach a certain age. “There is a lack of overnight respite for families, and we, as an organization are looking for ways to help families with clients that are over the age of 21.”
Melissa Sunshine Camp began at the Shewchuk family farm in Hinchinbrooke. Founder Mary Shewchuk started the charity after adopting her daughter Melissa. Only last year, Shewchuk was awarded the honour of Volunteer of the Year at Haut-Saint-Laurent’s Volunteer Recognition Gala in recognition of her efforts. As for her thoughts on the non-profit’s upcoming event, which will be the first of its kind for the group, she sees the auction as “…a chance for the community to gather and celebrate all those who have contributed to the success of this project over these 25 years.”
The non-profit aims to raise the monies needed to continue funding their organization—the only one of its kind in the area, which is why they are reaching out to local businesses and citizens to contribute to their cause. Donations in the form of gift certificates, works of art or gift baskets are welcome (charity receipts are available to donors). The deadline to submit is February 18th.
For more information, visit the non-profit’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/campsoleildemelissa or contact Marlene Harvey at 450-264-6340.