Hospice Muskoka became a cause near and dear to Connie MacNeil’s heart after she lost her husband last September. Now, the Connie’s Cafe owner is using her love of baking to raise money and awareness for the organization through a virtual baking fundraiser.
Chef Carmine Accogli from Rooks to Cooks, a culinary school offering virtual classes for kids, teens and families, will be leading the class from 7 to 9 p.m. on August 11. Participants will join in via Zoom for instruction on how to make “the best ever apple pie,” so it’s an opportunity for individuals and families with children of all ages to learn about making a summer staple. Connie’s Cafe is a proud supporter of plant-based foods along with being sensitive to food allergies, so the class will offer vegan and gluten-free versions of the recipe. MacNeil hopes to raise at least $5,000 in support of Hospice Muskoka and Andy’s House, their palliative care residence and community hub in Port Carling.
“[Hospice Muskoka] reached out to me with their grief program, and it really helped making connections with some other women that were going through the same thing I was going through,” MacNeil said. “I actually am still in contact with these women, so it’s a great program for people that are grieving, and it’s also a great program for people that are preparing for their end of life.”
There is a minimum donation of $10 required to register, but participants are encouraged to donate as much as they like and to spread the word about Hospice Muskoka and their mission to provide compassionate end-of-life care.
Ever since Andy’s House opened its doors in October last year, it’s been amazing to see the impact it’s had on the community, said Hospice Muskoka’s fund development coordinator Sandra Winspear. Their “small but mighty team” works hard to raise the money necessary to fund Andy’s House and their other operations, but community fundraising plays a big role in supporting their work and supplementing government funding.
“It helps defuse some of the challenges that we face on our own, but it also brings us all together into one large community,” Winspear said.
She encourages locals to visit Connie’s Cafe in Bracebridge and witness the passion and drive MacNeil has for her business. She also urges everyone to attend the virtual fundraiser and enjoy making the recipe with their loved ones.
“Let’s all sit down and have this wonderful piece of pie when we’re done and really share with our neighbours and our friends that real sense of community that comes from working together and enjoying together,” Winspear said.
MacNeil is no stranger to supporting the community through local nonprofits. She’s made a number of donations to the Manna Food Bank and the Salvation Army in addition to donating food scraps to the local animal shelter. She was raised with an “it takes a village” kind of mindset, she said, so it’s all part of her philosophy to help others whenever she can.
“The community support that my family got when my husband passed away was just incredible,” she said. “It still blows me away, and I just think it’s really important to help your community out.”
Andy’s House is a wonderful place and Chef Accogli is a fantastic teacher, MacNeil said, so she’s hopeful that people across the region will come together in support of Hospice Muskoka on August 11.
“I will be there answering any questions anybody has,” MacNeil said. “If they’re running into any difficulties, if they have any questions about the recipe or the substitutions for the recipe, we’ll be there to help, but it’s just going to be a really fun evening to get together and make something together and know that all the proceeds go to a wonderful cause.”
To register for the class, click here. For more information about Hospice Muskoka and the services they offer, visit their website. To learn more about Connie’s Cafe, go to their website or Facebook page.