A Coffee Break fundraiser is only as hard as you make it

For Renate Yeoman, hosting one, two, even three Coffee Breaks each year is a joy.

She’s dedicated to giving back to the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, to thank the organization that’s helped her navigate her mother's journey with dementia.

It’s been a few years since Renate began hosting Coffee Breaks in 2015.

“The first year I had a wine and cheese, a TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Friday) with my colleagues. We had that and we had little puzzlers – brain challenges – and it was just a chance to unwind,” she said.

There’s nothing like bringing friends together and doing good at the same time.

It was so much fun that Renate tripled her efforts the next year.

Guests raved about her take and bake event at the start of the holiday season.

“I had people come over and make a brownie recipe that myself and the student that I tutor created. We used mason jars. That was a really big hit. It was so much fun, and everyone had a great time. We had door prizes and it was awesome,” said Renate.

She also hosted a simple Coffee Break with cookies and coffee at a local shop, and cooked up a beef stew dinner – by donation – for a board meeting.

Renate doesn’t set a “price” for her events. She just encourages bakers or board members to donate what they like.

“I just get the box, the Coffee Break kit from (executive director) Shelley (Green), and people put in what they want – cash or cheque,” she said.

“Every little bit counts, so I don’t stress over that at all.”

That relaxed attitude – paired with her enthusiasm for Coffee Breaks – has helped Renate earn about $700 for the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, from Coffee Break fundraisers alone.

“I didn’t realize that they rely a lot on the funding to carry out their programs. They had been so kind to me, so I thought this was my way of paying it forward,” Renate said of the Society.

She learned about the Coffee Break fundraiser from her support group leader, and never looked back.
And though the money is important, Renate said her events have also helped grow awareness about the organization and its role in the community.

“I enjoy doing it, and everyone’s been more aware of what the Alzheimer Society can do, from the support groups to…their ability to educate us. If I had known what my mom was going through ahead of time, before she actually reached the critical stage, where she had to have long-term care, I probably would have handled things differently,” Renate said.

She was relieved to get connected with the Alzheimer Society of Oxford.

“It got to the point where I couldn’t handle it by myself anymore, so I heard about the Alzheimer Society through a police officer. The Woodstock Police mentioned that the Alzheimer Society is really good at helping, so I went there, and I’m so glad I did, because that was a turning point for me,” Renate said.

That's one reason why she’s so eager to give back.

And there’s no slowing down for Renate. In addition to her Walk for Alzheimer’s fundraising – another annual pursuit – she’s planning for three Coffee Breaks this fall.

Two are building off the success of her 2016 events.

There will be a repeat of the board meeting dinner by donation, and a wintery event called Soup’s On! where guests will create a soup-in-a-jar to take home.

Renate stresses that these events are simple and enjoyable – even for the host!

“It’s for a very good cause. It would be nice if more people jumped on the wagon and held their own coffee breaks, because it doesn’t take much to put one on,” Renate said.

“It’s only hard work if you want it to be.”

Last Updated: 11/08/2017