Chicken finger meals raise over $15,000 for Hospice

By: Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Renfrew — It was a combination of chicken fingers, generous community support and an energetic staff at Odi’s Kingburger that resulted in more than $15,000 being raised and donated to Hospice Renfrew.
A unique fundraiser initiated by Kevin and Laurie (Rouble) Coulas to raise money for the facility that was the final home for Laurie’s late father (Doug Rouble) exceeded even the most optimistic prediction of a total amount.
Robin Audette, daughter of Bob Audette, the man behind the 50-year-old Renfrew landmark, had trouble containing her excitement when the grand total was announced.
“Kevin came to us with the idea of selling chicken finger meals for two weeks and his company, KEV-TEK Electrical, would donate $10 for every meal sold,” Ms. Audette said.  “When we got down to the final day last Friday we all wanted to break the $15,000 mark.
“In the end we sold 1,495 chicken dinners which worked out to $14,950 but we also had a donation jar and with more than $260 in the jar, we did it.
“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of all our staff and all the people of Renfrew and beyond who waited in long lines to get a meal and thank you does not seem to be enough.”
Growing Up At Odi’s
As a teenager, Kevin Coulas used to go to Odi’s Kingburger and look forward to ordering chicken fingers but he wasn’t going to the drive-thru just for the great food.
His future wife worked there while attending Renfrew Collegiate Institute High School and she used to look forward to serving up chicken fingers to the man she would later marry.
“Life has a funny way of coming around,” Mrs. Coulas said. “My father spent his last days here at Hospice back in 2019 and Kevin and I just couldn’t believe how wonderful the staff and volunteers treated my dad. Living near Kinburn we would sometimes grab some food at Odi’s when we stayed with him here.”
Mr. Coulas echoed the sentiments of his wife and they realized the importance of Hospice Renfrew so they decided to find a way to say thank you to the facility, and so the idea of partnering with Odi’s began.
“I don’t think people realize how lucky they are to have this hospice in Renfrew,” he said. “This really is a jewel, and I can tell you we met other families when we were here for Laurie’s dad and some moved away to Ottawa. But they came home to Renfrew to be with a family member staying at Hospice. Odi’s is just one block away and we decided to help them out as well.”
The couple approached Ms. Audette about the fundraising idea and along with Candice Sylvestre and the rest of her staff, they launched a two-week blitz to sell chicken finger dinners in support of the fundraiser.
“All of us were so excited to be part of this fundraiser and we always looked forward to the end of the night to see how many dinners we sold,” Ms. Sylvestre said. “The idea that Kevin and Laurie were teenagers who met here so long ago makes it extra special.”
Mr. Coulas said raising money for Hospice Renfrew was especially gratifying because of the connection to Odi’s.
“It was important to involve Odi’s because with COVID, I know they, along with all the restaurants are having a really tough time, so to see so many people coming out and purchasing a dinner was great to see,” he said. “We may not live here anymore, but this is still our home and we believe in giving back to our community.”
Marjorie Joly, Executive Director of Hospice Renfrew, was thrilled with the donation.
“All of the staff and volunteers are so appreciative of this donation and it shows how a community can come together in these tough times and still find a way to raise money to help us provide a high level of compassion and care to those who spend their final days with us,” she said.
Ms. Audette said Odi’s Kingburger has been involved in other fundraising ventures, but the two-week campaign was the most successful project her staff has been involved with.
“Despite COVID-19 and the long delays because of the construction on Highway 60 right in front of our entrance, people still showed up to help the cause,” she said. “Having Kevin and Laurie as part of it was so special. I remember growing up and having Laurie working for my dad and sometimes she babysat me. Now that is something special. I just want to thank everyone for stopping at Odi’s and for supporting Hospice Renfrew.”