May Court Club of St. Catharines
The May Court Club of St. Catharines was established as a women’s service organization in 1935, dedicated to addressing needs in our community, primarily those of women and children. In 1952, in conjunction with the Rotary Club Mobile Unit, May Court opened the Cerebral Palsy Play Centre at St. Thomas Anglican Church. Club volunteers cared for 4 children one afternoon a week to give parents a needed break, as well as to give the children an opportunity to socialize.
By 1957, the Centre had moved to the St. Catharines General Hospital (1953), the number of children in the program had grown from 4 to 32, Dr. W. Orr had become the medical advisor, and a physiotherapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist had been hired. A Management Committee was formed with Dr. Orr as Chair and with representation from Rotary Club, May Court Club and SCGH. Throughout these years of growth, the May Court volunteers raised funds, provided equipment, and cared for the children 5 days per week.
May Court members travelled to Queen’s Park several times to request provincial funding, and in 1958, they were successful in receiving an annual grant of $990. By this time, with rising enrolment, transportation needs, increasing salaries, utilities and maintenance costs, Rotary and May Court and other supporters were grateful for the assistance.
In 1965, the Centre was incorporated and plans were begun for a new building. Four years later, the Niagara Peninsula Crippled Children’s Centre was officially opened at 567 Glenridge, with an enrolment of 60 children. As the Centre continued to expand in size and treatment facilities, May Courters continued to provide funds as well as volunteer in the classroom, the lunchroom, the playground, and the swimming pool. They also organized orientation/training for volunteers, conducted tours, participated in interpretive sessions with teachers and therapists, and contributed as members of the Board of Directors. In the late 1970’s our volunteers numbered 42 per week.
Presently, May Court provides for a children’s Christmas Party each year, with lunch, carols, Santa and presents. Additional funding is provided for the library as well as for equipment. Although the need for volunteers has diminished over time, several members continue to serve in the library and in the classroom.
May Court President, Betsy Partington says, “It has been a privilege for us to be a part of the Children’s Centre through the many years and we cherish the friendships we have made with students, staff and our fellow volunteers. We wish the Centre a Happy 50th Anniversary!”