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  • Doug Townsend


Local Rotary clubs have helped to fund many local and international projects over the past 100 years. There have been many high-profile projects that include Rotary Park, the Boys and Girls Club, RKY Camp, Almost Home, and worldwide polio immunization. But, sometimes, smaller projects are just as important to the Kingston community and even more satisfying to Rotarians.

In 2016, the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board proudly announced the opening of a new school, St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School. This new school would replace and amalgamate three older schools in Kingston’s north end. Unfortunately, budget shortages meant that the board could provide the bricks and mortar, and the staff, but very little else.

The new school lacked many items that were deemed by the board as non-essential but were absolutely considered essential for students. Parents and staff were left with the task to raise funds or go without. The school needed an oven and refrigerator for the breakfast and lunch programs, sports equipment like volleyballs for their physical education programs, and jerseys and shorts for the school’s sports uniforms.

Without provincial or board funding, parents and teachers reached out to the community for help to cover the $9,000 budget shortfall following their initial fundraisers. Fortunately, their Vice-Principal happened to be in contact with a member of the Cataraqui-Kingston Rotary Club prior to the deadline for its fall 2017 Community Grants application process. Our grants committee felt that the request ticked all the boxes – youth, education, health, hunger, and ‘skin in the game’ from doing their own fundraising first. We were happy to be able to respond quickly with the news that we were going to present them with a cheque for $7,500, asking only for recognition somewhere in the school (such as a small Rotary wheel on the school uniforms).

From the club’s perspective, this is what Rotary is all about. What really hit home for all of us was hearing that more than a few tears were shed by the students, parents, and staff of St. Francis of Assisi when they heard that we were able to fund nearly all of their outstanding requests.

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