Posted by Margaret Shibley
In the midst of a week of cold and rain, 12 September was sunny, warm, and full of hope. A small and distanced gathering of some of the many folk who have worked so hard now on the how of this project met to celebrate and found themselves reflecting on the why.
 
Everybody gets a Rotary mask! John Gale (left), Project Lead, President Cataraqui Rotary Club; Logan, Pathways Program Alumnus, Assistant to FAR; Jon Oosterman, Facilitator of Alumni Relations; Wendy Vuyk, Director, Kingston Community Health Centre.
Like no Rotary gathering you’ve seen before! Carefully distanced, videographer between the audience and the podium, computer screens at the front. There were more people, but they were lined up in the shade against the building.  
Cheque Presentation 1. In front of cheering audience.  
Cheque Presentation 2. In front of small computer screen for Zoom audience. John Gale, Project Lead; Logan, Pathways Alumnus.
Wendy Vuyk, Director, Kingston Community Health Centre, spoke of the findings when they talked to previous alumni of the Pathways to Education Program, who left secondary school with hopes and intentions of pursuing further education. Just a few months later almost 70% had dropped out of the process, for heartbreakingly simple reasons. Registration for post- secondary institutions requires a credit card; neither student nor parent had one. The promised grant came in very late, and by the time the student was able to register she was so far behind in the class work she couldn’t catch up. Another couldn’t afford the textbooks.  And it went on. 
 
Mary Rita Holland, Kingston Councillor for the District, spoke of her own past in New Brunswick, growing up in the much the same conditions. Now with one BA, two MAs, and currently a PhD candidate at Queen’s University (research topic is home care in rural communities), she lives in the neighbourhood the larger Pathways Program and our Rotary FAR Project is targeting. Success shouldn’t be so heavily dependent on luck.
 
Michael Hipson, from the KEYS InSIght Program, spoke of the mentoring program we are putting in place to support the Pathways alumni who have yet to make a decision about the course of their future. More than anything else, what these young adults need from their Rotarian mentors is respect and a listening ear.
 
John Oosterman, the Facilitator of Alumni Relations, spoke of the impact this project will have on individuals, families, and ultimately the neighbourhood. 
 
And finally, Logan, a Pathways Alumnus, now in his 3rd year in Psychology at Queen’s,  over the years moving from one volunteer position with the Pathways team to another with increasing responsibility and impact, said not a word, but beamed broadly from underneath his mask as he stood to receive the cheque from John Gale, Rotary FAR Project Lead, President Cataraqui Kingston Rotary Club.
 
There were of course other people there from Rotary (all 4 Kingston Clubs, Napanee, Passport, a video from the official International Partner Club in India, another from DG Hadi Mortada, and all the folk who attended on line), but the day was about the young adults, current and future, whose lives will be different now, and about our own joy and satisfaction in our ability to serve.