Kingston's Dawn House transitional shelter for women received a $12,785 donation on Thursday, with the funds being raised through the first annual Brothers in Arms Charity Ride.
The Brothers in Arms Veteran Motorcycle Club is a group comprised of military veterans that say they are focused on maintaining brotherhood post-military retirement, supporting other veterans and their spouses, and trying to better their community.
The Kingston area riders have a longstanding donation history with Dawn House, saying that the organization is among the most impactful on the community.
Brothers In Arms President Billy Irving says seeing the hard work of Dawn House staff and the appreciation of their clientele makes supporting them a no brainer.
"Maggie and her crew at Dawn House they're such amazing, resilient people, how could you not honestly?" Irving said.
This year the Club organized its first Annual Charity Ride, which was a roughly 80 KM ride spanning from their west end clubhouse, along the water to Mackinnon Brothers Brewery and ending with a BBQ and door prizes at Red House West - also the site of Thursday's cheque presentation.
For several years, the Club has raised over $2,000 for Dawn House around Christmas time in addition to providing help with maintenance work on location, and this year Brothers In Arms felt they could take that to a new level.
Club Treasurer Kelly MacKinnon said an "aggressive" fundraising goal of $8,000 was set for the inaugural ride, and they were thrilled to be able to surpass that goal.
He says outside a couple of small, insignificant hiccups, the fundraising and ride went as well as they could have hoped for, and that every single business approached for some kind of donation obliged.
"It went that well, that smooth," MacKinnon said.
"When we walked into a local business and said 'hey this is what we're doing, this is who we are, this is who we support'... businesses would just give us a gift card."
MacKinnon added, however, that the main thing they learned was to get the word out earlier about fundraising for the ride.
Dawn House, the beneficiary of the first annual ride, is a transitional shelter for women in the Kingston area which works to help women who have often lost everything build their lives back up from the ground up and reintegrate into the community.
Dawn House Executive Director Maggie McLaren says while that is the hope for everyone they serve, that goal is becoming harder and harder for so many women.
McLaren says many of the women who come through Dawn House rely on supports like ODSP and senior's pensions, which provide barely enough to afford to rent an apartment.
As these supports, and increasingly wages, become less and less adequate, McLaren says it is harder for these women to take the next step.
As such, for an organization like Dawn House who has no government funding, wider scale donation efforts like the one exhibited by Brothers In Arms become vitally important.
"It really helps when an outside organization or club takes something on like this because we can only juggle so many balls at one time," McLaren said.
"When we did it (fundraisers) ourselves, we're splitting our time between service to the women and trying to get the event all planned. It's really hard, so it really helps when volunteers kind of step forward."
Currently Dawn House is preparing to open a building on Ridley Drive with 12 additional transitional housing units, set to open in November.
McLaren says they don't have the capital funding to develop the west wing of the building into apartments at this time, and it will act as specialized transitional space during the winter.
McLaren says with added space, Dawn House will be able to provide more diverse service, and better be able to assist women in whatever different ways they need.
"We'll be able to support women here they're at at different levels," McLaren said.
"If someone maybe doesn't fit in one program maybe we can move them into another that we're running."
The Brothers in Arms Veteran Motorcycle Club say the ride will definitely happen again next year and expect it to once again take place in late August.
Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News for the Local Journalism Initiative