Published December 13, 2021 16:00
As the air turns cooler, I get a little nostalgic. Are you like that, too? I think it's partly the cold weather, the welcoming of the first snow, and the anticipation of the holiday season.
Our thousands of young Members observe and celebrate many holidays over the next couple of months; Eid Al-Fitr, Diwali, Pancha Ganapati, the Donghzhi Festival, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Twelve Days of Christmas, Shab-e Yalda, the Winter Solstice, and the Lunar New Year to name a few.
This year especially, I think connection is critical. For many children and youth in Ottawa, their worlds have shrunk over the past year and a half. Many children and youth that we serve every day are still trying to catch up.
For some young people before the pandemic, there was what I'd call a small learning 'gap', but for many, we see a learning 'gulf' from school and other learning disruptions. But I know it is something we can help kids work with together. Our front-line staff are incredible at meeting kids where they are and encouraging their learning every step of the way.
Would you consider giving a special year-end gift—of any amount—to support and encourage our young people as they get back on track academically and socially? There is one thing I know for sure. Children are resilient and genuinely incredible. I see the same thing with my own three kids, too.
I want to take a moment to introduce you to my colleague Medin. You will see a photo of both of us on the first page. I have known Medin since we were both pretty much kids. The Club is like an extended family.
Medin joined the Ron Kolbus Clubhouse when he was ten years old. His family was originally from Ethiopia, and he emigrated to Canada. Being a New Canadian was not easy, but Medin found a home away from home at the Club. He prospered, and he grew. Ultimately, Medin became our Chief Programs Officer. And today, he brings a wealth of experience, plus lived experience growing up in social housing.
"One of the things I am most excited about right now is how we are building a new Clubhouse—the Taggart Parkes Family Clubhouse—in the south-end of Ottawa. We know there are close to 30 social housing neighbourhoods in that part of the city. Plus, roughly 5,000 kids with minimal resources. I grew-up in social housing, too. We have great community partners but limited or very little dedicated space. It will be amazing to welcome kids and teens to a 15,000 sq foot building, complete with a gymnasium for organized sports, a full homework and study area, plus a community learning kitchen. It's tough to learn well on an empty stomach! This one space will transform the lives of thousands of kids".
I wholeheartedly agree with Medin. The Taggart Parkes Family Clubhouse and our vision to double our impact and members by 2024 will change many young lives. Our stories share many similarities and, as kids, we both learned the same shared values at the Club of belonging, respect, encouragement, working together, speaking out. Today, I feel so grateful that I get to lead an organization that gave me so much.
In the last 18 months, I am proud that we continued to provide services when asked to change how we serve our young people constantly. Change was our only constant. Now we are in the process of rebuilding, reconnecting, and making sure that opportunities are available to all young people.
Please know that we could not do our work without you. Would you consider giving a special year-end gift to help us continue serving children and youth, especially as many young people need extra support?
This holiday season, thanks so much for being part of our story of growth and recovery and being there for every child who needs it. Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday, and season of celebration.
CEO & Alumnus