Mesdames of Mercy Part 4

What We Do in the Sunlight:

This is the fourth in our series about the volunteer work the Mesdames of Mayhem do when they aren’t thinking up ways to murder people. This month we feature Mesdames Jane Burfield and Lynne Murphy.

From Mme. Jane Burfield:

mesdames-jane-burfield2-icon SquareVolunteering has always been an important part of my life. I started at age six, cleaning soldiers’ ashtrays at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. Progressing up through sandwich making to whirring milkshake machines made me feel very mature at eight. I have enjoyed volunteer work all my life, but none more than helping in the last few years to test dogs for Therapeutic Paws of Canada.

Therapeutic Paws is a remarkable program. Their tested and approved teams of dog or cat and owner visit facilities where they bring smiles to hospital and retirement residents.  Some animals are further tested to qualify to visit children. The team even goes in to schools and universities to reduce stress during exams.

Testing is an interesting process. We actually test the owner as much as the animal.  The dog has to show willingness to obey commands from its owner, an ability to withstand loud sounds, strange situations and crowds, and have a gentle manner when interacting with people.

The therapy animals bring comfort and happiness to many clients in stressful situations. Please link to the Therapeutic Paws website at to read more about their programs, to volunteer and to support their services.

Volunteering as a young child drove my interest in people which led to my enjoyment of developing interesting characters in my writing. The time you give is time well spent.

Mme. Burfield’s short stories appear in numerous anthologies including “Thirteen” and “Thirteen o’clock”.

From Mme. Lynne Murphy:

lynneFor more than twenty years the osteoporosis exercise classes at West Scarborough Community Centre have hosted Bone China Teas to raise funds and increase awareness of osteoporosis. I began working for the tea under the direction of our leader, Doris Spencer. When Doris found it was getting to be a bit much for her, my friend Pam and I volunteered to help. It worked out well as Pam ran the kitchen very capably and I was in charge of the entertainment side.

At first the teas were just nice events where we dressed up a bit and sat around and gossiped. Then we decided  there should be a theme–we started with a crazy hat competition and went on from there. One year we saluted the Roaring Twenties, with everyone in costume and Doris teaching the Charleston. Another tea honoured Will and Kate’s wedding with fabulous hats. My daughter made a fascinator out of two tub scrubbers and a spray of sequins. For the Queen’s Jubilee we had our local MP as special guest. He brought souvenir pins for all the ladies attending.

We also have a quiz in line with the theme of the tea. The guests at each table work on the quiz together and this gets conversation going.  And  everyone at the table with the most right answers gets a prize. The year of the royal wedding one question was “Which member of the Royal family is a patron of the Osteoporosis Society in Britain?” (If you don’t know, see answer below.)

Everything is donated–food, door prizes, raffle prizes–so that every dollar earned goes to Osteoporosis Canada. This month, our group is to be honoured at a meeting of that organization for our contributions over the years. Something for a small group of women to be proud of.

Mme. Murphy’s short stories are in a number of anthologies, including “Thirteen” and “Thirteen o’clock.”

Editor’s note: During the past few months, the Mesdames have written about their volunteer activities in the community. These have included working with agencies that benefit animals– Therapeutic Paws, the Humane Society,  and  Dachshund Rescue. Some of us help raise funds to benefit  research  into cancer or osteoporosis. Some work with social agencies like Out of the Cold, or St. Vincent de Paul. Then there is work with libraries, literacy  councils and community groups, where our writing and editing experience is especially valuable. One wonders, how many lives have we touched during the year?

 The answer to the quiz question is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.


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