Fundraiser benefits for cardiac care program

In one home, people share shrimp hors d’oeuvres, drink sweet pea and mint soup shooters, and sip wine while mingling.

Not too far away, another group of people sit in a basement, eating spicy food while watching the Olympic  opening ceremony.

Both homes, along with three others, were hosting galas on Feb. 11 and 12 to raise money for the Rouge Valley Health System’s cardiac care program.

The program is in its first year and was started by Ann and Gord Moore, board members of the RVHS Foundation, said foundation spokesperson Kerry McLeish. The five households in Scarborough and Ajax raised over $10,000 in two evenings.

“There is a misconception with most people that all of the programs at the hospital are funded by the government,” said one of the gala hosts Raj Thavaratnasingham, who lives within a few kilometres of the Centenary Hospital.

“I think it’s important that the community gets involved to make sure that the hospital that serves the community is in good shape,” he said.

The minimum donation to attend a gala was $50, but Thavaratnasingham said  some people gave as much as $300. He also encouraged a friend, who is not directly involved with the hospital, to host a gala in his home.

Thavaratnasingham has lived in the community for 19 years and began volunteering at the hospital as a way to help it grow.

“Some people don’t give a penny to the hospital, but they have done more for the hospital by being a volunteer, by helping the patients, talking to the elder patients and caring for them,” he said.

Partnering with his wife Kumudhini Thavara, Thavaratnasingham served traditional spicy Tamil meals to his 32 guests.  Their gala took place on the opening night of the Olympic Games and everyone watched the opening ceremony together.

Joanne Moffitt, 67, a volunteer at the Centenary Hospital, also hosted a gala in her home.

“It’s my hospital — it’s where my children went when they had their bumps and bangs and stitches,” Moffitt said.

Moffitt said she had help from her friend Millie Tavener with putting out the invitations and organizing the event. Almost 50 people attended.

One of the guests was a professional chef who served up hors d’oeuvres, while others brought a variety of dishes. Journalist and wine-connoisseur Dick Singer organized a wine tasting.

RVHS cardiologist, Dr. Amir Janmohamed, spoke at the event. Moffitt’s sister, who is a heart transplant patient, also attended.

“People could see the benefits of donating or giving money towards these programs and how important they are,” Moffitt said.

The foundation’s next gala will be held at the Ontario Science Centre on March 26, with the proceeds going to the cardiac program.