Bradford resident Tom Fines believes in giving back to those in need and has been volunteering in the community for decades.
Fines was adopted at birth in Toronto in 1965 and raised in the township of Aurora by his adoptive parents – Marilyn and Ken. His mother passed away in 1988 and his father in 2004, leaving behind Fines and his one adopted sister Tracey, who resides in Toronto.
Fines discovered he was adopted at an early age. Ken and Marilyn were the only parents he knew.
“I never really wanted to look for my natural parents,” he says. “Only earlier this year did I locate my original certificate of adoption with both my birth name and adopted name on it.”
Growing up, both Fines’ parents were involved in the Lions Club from the late 1960s to early 1980s. Fines was a founding member of the junior Lions Clubs (Leos) in Aurora during his teens. Eventually, he transitioned to the Lions Club at age 19 and remained a member for approximately 10 years until work took precedence.
“I come by my volunteering naturally [and] honestly,” he says humbly about his experiences with the Lions Club.
In 2002, Fines purchased a house in Bradford (originally with his father before he passed away), where he still resides.
From 1994 to 2018, Fines worked for a A&B Courier. During that time, he became involved with Bradford’s Canada Day celebrations as the official fireworks supervisor. He held the volunteer role for approximately 25 years. He has also aided with the town's New Year's Eve fireworks display for the past four years.
“About two weeks before the town’s fireworks, I would check all the mortars/firing tubes to ensure they were in working order,” explains Fines. “On the day of the show, we (myself and town staff/volunteers) would transport all the mortars and shells to the firing site."
Set up and loading would take anywhere from three to six hours depending on how much help would be available.
"Then we would do a pre-show walk through to make sure everyone knew what was being fired, when," he said.
Volunteers and staff wear protective gear for the 20-minute firework display and once done, everything is cleaned up thoroughly with a second walk through the next day when it is light outside.
When Fines is not playing with fireworks, his hobbies include cooking, and riding his motorcycle. He owns a Suzuki C90 Cruiser and is an active member with a York Region based motorcycle club called the ‘Highwaymen’.
Fines helps organize annual fundraisers through the Highwaymen club, including an upcoming ‘boot drive’ to help raise money for the local food bank in Georgina, and a ‘poker run’ for various local charities and families in need.
“In the Highwaymen, we are all given a road name,” explains Fines. “Each one is individual to that person. My road name is ‘ER’ due to all my medical issues.”
Fines has a long history of medical issues such as diabetes, asthma, kidney failure, and heart complications. In 2011, he had quintuple heart bypass surgery, and in 2018 he was forced to leave work and transition to a disability program where he was put on a kidney transplant waitlist.
“I have a dialysis access ‘port’ on my lower-left side of my abdomen [that] has been on for 3.5 years now, and just a month ago, a second power was put in under the right side of my collar bone for hemo-dialysis,” he shares. “I have four percent kidney use… for both kidneys!”
Fines shares that last year alone, he forked out over $1,800 for all his prescriptions which were not covered such as blood pressure and cholesterol pills. In addition to finding a new kidney, Fines is hoping for a new pancreas, ideally with the kidney transplant surgery.
Despite his ailments, Fines wanted to continue to give back to his community and became a volunteer with the Out of the Cold Café since its inception in November 2020.
Fines spends a few days a week assisting with client registration at the front desk of the café located on Frederick Street in Bradford, and has experience helping those in the homeless sector.
He is currently on two types of dialysis,. One is the peritoneal dialysis machine which he uses at home five nights a week for 9.5 hours a night. The other is hemo-dialysis which is once a week at the kidney clinic for 3.5 hours.
"There are certain foods I can no longer eat as they contain ingredients that may cause even more issues. As well as having to limit my fluid intake so I don't become bloated or possibly even suffocate in my on body fluids. Please take a minute to consider donating a kidney. Most 98 percent of people live life with two kidneys and believe it or not ( look it up),people can donate one kidney and still live a perfectly healthy normal life."
To learn more about living organ donations, visit: https://www.uhn.ca/Transplant/Living_Donor_Program