Every Toonie Counts!

Paula Ferris is a single mother, Governor General’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers recipient and Cool Aid Wonder Woman. In just the past month, Paula’s “Toonie Group” has rounded up a stove, hygiene products, turkeys, clothes and, of course, toonies.

Paula Ferris and the Toonie Group  have been helping support the women of Sandy Merriman House and the tenants of Next Steps transitional shelter for the past 10 years. The donations they raise fund arts programs, community lunches, family visits, bus tickets and much more.

They’ve also been able to prevent homelessness by providing emergency funds to help pay rent or electricity during a personal financial crisis.

Paula started the Toonie Group a decade ago by collecting toonies from, friends, family and colleagues every month. Altogether, the Toonie Group has raised an astounding $20,000!

“A toonie a month is all I asked for from each person. It seemed more likely that everyone could afford this and, if I collected the toonies and dropped them off monthly, I felt the consistency might help to make an impact.”

What inspired Paula to create the Toonie Group? It started with her family.

When she’s not busy helping Cool Aid, Paula plays a key role in the family businesses: Ferris Oyster Bar & Grill and Perro Negro restaurant. Her generous parents, Tom and Sandy Ferris, have donated turkeys and ham at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter for a decade.

Paula is calm and focused and yet a bundle of energy for all things Cool Aid. She is patient yet refuses to let obstacles get in her way.

Paula inspires us. But what inspires her?

“The very first time I dropped by I was so impressed with Sandy Merriman House,” she explained.  “It is a warm, welcoming place for women who are homeless, that is well organized and structured. The staff are incredibly caring, compassionate, firmly loving and professional,” Ferris told us, “and I wanted to help them do more.”

Paula teaches all of us that even the little things can add up to make a huge difference in the lives of people in our community who are disadvantaged.

She is the embodiment of the principle that together we can accomplish much, much more.

Sandy Merriman House and Next Step shelters, along with other Cool Aid programs, help people who are homeless stabilize, improve their health and find a home. These small programs are often their first step towards recovery, home and community participation.

Join Paula’s Facebook group to learn more about the Toonie Group and how you can get involved – or make a donation to Sandy Merriman House and let us know Paula inspired you! It’s amazing how those toonies add up to so much love and practical help.

Kendra Wong/Victoria News