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Posthuma New Chaplaincy President

Published: April 7, 2016 7:18 pm ET

Last Comment: April 7, 2016 11:10 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Jean Posthuma, a longtime resident of Campbellville, Ont., who has spent more than two decades helping some of the less fortunate in Ontario harness racing, was voted president of the Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy of Canada on March 30.

Known to many as the ‘Mother Teresa’ of the Mohawk Raceway backstretch, Jean Posthuma has devoted a large portion of her life to helping the grooms, those at the bottom of the totem pole in horse racing, the dedicated men and women who work in harmony with the horses they love.

Long before the Standardbred Chaplaincy of Canada came into being in 2005, Jean Posthuma was there with caring, generosity and just plain human kindness for those of the rubrag, brush and hoofpick who toiled in the Mohawk Racetrack barns .

The Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy of Canada, pastored by horseman and former blacksmith Ken Carter of Grand Valley Ontario, is a non denominational, non-profit charity dedicated to providing for the emotional, physical, spiritual and human needs of the horseracing work force in southwestern Ontario.

Jean Posthuma invited the grooms into her home for a swim and a barbeque. When Thanksgiving rolled around they were sitting at her table, and at Christmas they were there sharing dinner and laughs. Birthdays became another celebration.

“I heard their life stories”, Posthuma said. “Some had left home and had no family. I helped them get Health cards and open bank accounts, things to make them feel like human beings.”

The biggest problem of many of the grooms was not, alcohol, or drug abuse or gambling, but loneliness. Many had lived in the Mohawk community for over 30 years. They had been around horses all their lives and it was all they knew. They lived without automobiles, cell phones, or computers. Grooming horses was not just a job for them, it was their calling, a vocation. Their main motivating force was their passion for caring for the horses, who, like little children, depended on them.

When groceries were needed Jean took them to Milton and Guelph for shopping, sometimes taking two van loads. She drove them to doctors' appointments and sometimes spent hours in hospital’s emergency departments when they had broken bones, or other health issues.

“I had grooms come to me and say ‘do you think you could help so and so, he needs food and clothing', and I would go through my cupboards and bring them some of the necessities of life.”

Jean Posthuma visited the Mohawk backstretch and brought food and clothing. She kept track of birthdays and sent birthday and Christmas cards to let them know they were cared for and remembered.

When a church in the Campbellville community heard Jean’s story they also wanted to help and developed a food bank for grooms in need.

Jean Posthuma, a diminutive, low key gal, has been a member of the Standardbred Chaplaincy’s volunteer-directors group for the past six years, and served as secretary of this dedicated group for the past four years. She has never closed her doors , or her heart, to the needs of those most in need.

She initiated the popular Hot Meals Program that served up delicious homemade meals every Wednesday by the Chaplaincy volunteer-directors at Mohawk Raceway during the winter months, with special dinners at Christmas and Easter. But with the closing of the Mohawk backstretch dormitories and stables in 2012, the same year the announcement was made that the Slots at Racetracks Program was being cancelled by the provincial government, the Hot Meals Program became history and grooms who had lived in the dorms, some for over 30 years, were scattered, and the Mohawk horseracing community was no more.

The Chaplaincy became homeless when it lost its office space and chapel, and horsemen and their horses were relegated to 15 or more training centres in the Mohawk area.

When Jean Posthuma sustained a broken arm on March 5th of this year, the grooms that she had helped and supported, converged on her Campbellville home. They did the laundry, helped prepare meals, cleared the driveway of snow and ice, and assisted Jean’s husband, Tom, with chores around the house.

As Chaplaincy president, Jean Posthuma has lost little time implementing new ways to help the Chaplaincy. She has arranged to stage co-sponsored, fundraising dinners throughout the year in cooperation with St. David’s Presbyterian Church in Campbellville, with 50 per cent of the net profits going to support the diligent work of the Chaplaincy. Until this year the Chaplaincy has survived on personal donations and the proceeds from its annual golf tourney. In 2015 the Chaplaincy was the beneficiary of funds raised by the owners of 75 horses in the Stable That God Loves, an initiative involving horse owners donating one per cent of the purse earnings of one, or two, of their horses during the 2015 racing season.

Posthuma succeeds Cambridge horseman Scott Forbes, a 40 year veteran of the sport, who was Chaplaincy president for the past six years. Scott will remain on the Chaplaincy board as a volunteer director.

Rockwood, Ontario horsewoman, Pat Harding, was voted Chaplaincy vice president, Bob Coole of Guelph, Ontario continues his post of treasurer, and Ayr, Ontario resident, Nancy Demetrious took on the role of secretary.

(Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy of Canada)

April 7, 2016 - 11:10 pmGreat News, Bill! Sounds like

Great News, Bill!
Sounds like a very special woman.
Glad to hear that the Presbyterians are doing their part :)
This chaplaincy is such a great ministry. Long may it serve.
Blessings to all concerned,
The Rev. Mark McLennan, Woodstock

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