Blizzard fails to dissuade more than 300 from attending first Linking Hands Expo, March Madness Family Fun Day

Dundas County Community Living Executive Director Debbie Boardman (left) and HR/Payroll Clerk Morgan Chambers represented the organization at the Dundas County Linking Hands Expo at Maple Ridge Centre at the 2017 event, which returns March 13-14, 2018. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

From left, McKenna Kelly, 7, Jake Guy, 3, and Kaley Kelly, 4, enjoyed the cotton candy at the March Madness Family Fun Day coinciding with the Linking Hands Expo. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

MAPLE RIDGE—Despite a winter blizzard that forced many to stay home and off the roads, the first Linking Hands 2017 EXPO and March Madness Family Fun Day saw more than 300 people travelling to the Maple Ridge Centre.

The Wednesday, March 15, event offered free admission to everyone, as the purpose of the EXPO was to bring Dundas County residents face-to-face with the agencies and organizations that provide the services and re-sources they want or need. With 28 exhibitors signed on to participate in the massive information session, only 14 were able to attend, but these 14 provided information, answers, and support to those who dropped by their tables.

“Several visitors said they were able to get the information they needed or hoped for from various agencies,” Linking Hands coordinator Sandy Casselman said. “As well, most exhibitors seemed pleased with the number of people they reached and the amount of information they were able to disseminate.”

The agencies represented at the event included the Township of North Dundas, Community Food Share (formerly Dundas County Food Bank), Naomi’s Family Resource Centre, Community Living Dundas County, Child and Youth Mental Services, Community Addiction and Mental Health Cornwall Community Hospital, Garden Villa Retirement Residence, Glengarry Inter-Agency Group, Habitat for Humanity, Happy Face Nursery School, Maison Interlude House, SD&G Legal Clinic, Upper Canada Health Link, and, of course, Linking Hands and its parent agency, the House of Lazarus.

In addition to agency exhibits, there was Maple Ridge’s annual March Madness Family Fun Day, complete with Tribeck Inflatables, Vanderlaan the

Sarah Baker and son Lincoln enjoyed a slide down one of the air bounce attractions at Maple Ridge Centre. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Barnyard Zoo, a Glow Room, face painting, balloons, cotton candy, Chase from Paw Patrol, and more. For $5, each child could participate in as many activities as they wanted and for as long as they wished.

“Considering the massive blizzard and the inability of many to make it out that day, we are quite happy with the results,” Casselman said. “We had 153 adults and 166 children attend the March Break event despite the weather. We have already signed on to do it again next year. Hopefully, there won’t be any blizzards during the 2018 March Break.”

Linking Hands is a non-profit group dedicated to reducing poverty in Dundas County. It is directed by a community-led steering committee with sub-committee working groups that focus on a variety of projects from the Green Food Box, Gardening Guides, Lunch and Learn, and more.


Ruth Vanderlaan of The Barnyard Zoo shows off one of the operation’s pet pygmy hedgehogs to some visitors at March Madness Family Fun Day at Maple Ridge Centre, March 15. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News


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