Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County Children First Fund
Sheila Markle of Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County, says, “Thank you.”
It is my pleasure to speak to you about the work of our organization and to thank you for your generous donation to the Children First Fund.
Jean Vanier said “One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.”
100 Women Who Care is a marvelous example of community coming together to support programs and services that the members of our community benefit from.
A compassionate and caring community is vital to ensure children and youth are safe and nurtured and to ensure that much needed services and supports not provided through government programs or funding are available to help fill in gaps that exist, and they do exist.
The Children First Fund, through generous donations such as yours, provides tangible support to youth who are transitioning to adulthood with very little support from family, material assets or access to financial resources.
Let me tell you a couple of stories:
Tom (not his real name) achieved a goal he didn’t think possible with the support of the Children First Fund.
As an older youth, Tom moved out on his own and worked as a security guard to support himself. A hard worker, he kept to himself
He was holding his own but felt unable to move beyond what he had achieved and certainly not towards his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer.
In his own words:
Education Support “showed me a way out of a rut that could have damaged my life for quite some time. It opened a world of opportunities that I had never event given thought to and showed me that there was so much more out there for me. It also showed me that there are people who care a tremendous amount about the well-being and success of others.”
“I had never fathomed that [going to college] was possible. Learning that [there was Education Support] gave me a huge push to go back to school and not waste the chance. It made me realize that I could afford to make a career choice and pursue something that could really get me somewhere in life.”
“It is hard to measure this kind of impact on people but just speaking from my experience I can say that this [Education Support] has opened my eyes to so much more and put me on a path that I am really excited to continue down. Supporting programs like this are supporting the hopes and dreams of individuals.”
Tom was able to reduce his work commitments so that he could attend college. He successfully completed his program and has moved closer to achieving his dream, recently accepting his job as a law enforcement officer with the RCMP.
The Children First Fund opened a door to possibilities for Mindy (not her real name) which can be pursued at any time. Growing up, Mindy had an interest in photography which with support developed into a passion. Supported by our organization to pursue this interest, the CFF provided her with access to a summer program. Her work caught the eye of a local photographer who mentored her. Mindy’s creative drive found an outlet and after high school she enrolled in a college program specializing in photographic arts.
Mindy found the adjustment to college life challenging and with continued support from her worker problem solved to overcome the challenges to successfully complete the first year. With the increased workload of the second year, the challenges increased triggering past trauma issues – all of which significantly impacting her ability to cope so she took a break from her program.
In her words:
“It’s scary out there in the real world, with remembering to pay bills and do taxes. It’s not something I’m amazing at yet. It’s like learning to swim in a pool of salt water with a whole lot of paper cuts. What made it easier for me to overcome these things is that I know I have people waiting to bandage up the areas that I can’t.”
When Mindy works through her trauma issues enough, she knows that she can return to college with our support. The children we assist are not always ready to follow transition pathways at the same time as their peers. They may do so at a later time. Through the CFF we are able to continue to assist them to pursue their dreams when they are ready to do so. The CFF opens doors to the potential of opportunity that our youth often do not know existed.
Donations to our Children First Fund really do make a difference in the lives of the children and youth we support and we thank you tonight for your donations. We know that opportunity is often the difference between success and failure. With donations from generous individuals like yourselves, we are able to resolve barriers and create community solutions. Ultimately those solutions help children, youth, young adults and families to not only survive but thrive.