Every day I am privy to the undeniable and rejuvenating effect of thousands of energetic young minds and, as the season of generosity approaches, I am inspired by the many ways Queen's students embody this value year round.
The story I am sharing with you today is just one example of the curiosity, commitment and passion of our students and how, given the opportunities that donors help make available at Queen's, student initiative can make a meaningful impact on a community.
We were inspired. We wanted to make a difference. - Sheri, Class of '08
In 2007, then third-year students Sheri (Psychology'08, MIR'09) and Tyler (Philosophy'08) were inspired while attending a student run conference where a speaker shared his experience of supporting the homeless community in Toronto. Through this example, Sheri and Tyler realized the tremendous opportunity they had as Queen's students to make a difference in Kingston.
Their passion was contagious and, together with a group of eight other students, they set to work.
"We reached out to local shelters, food banks and soup kitchens to assess their needs," Sheri says about starting the project. "We wanted to invest our efforts where they would have the greatest impact."
And so Soul Food was born to help feed hungry people in Kingston.
We saw the opportunity, but we couldn't do it alone. - Tyler, Class of '08
Sheri and Tyler's passion propelled them forward, but it was through the support of likeminded friends, classmates and Queen's community members that their vision was fully realized.
Tyler speaks with pride about working with Queen's Hospitality Services and the student volunteers who joined the initiative: "In working to make a difference outside the Queen's community, we also made a difference within! We brought people together. We built a community within a community."
Five years later, Soul Food is still going strong. Current co-chairs, Haley (Psychology'12) and Katie (Politics'12) continue to lead a team of committed and compassionate student volunteers. Taking leftover cafeteria food to shelters and food banks is still Soul Food's main goal, but the students have added new programming including an annual Awareness Week to promote dialogue about local and global hunger.
Soul Food is only one example of the many ways Queen's students reach beyond the limestone walls of Queen's. Creating an environment where students have the opportunity and the support to initiate programs like Soul Food is a distinctive and vital part of the overall education available at Queen's.
But our students wouldn't have the opportunity to pursue their passions and demonstrate their natural initiative without the support of alumni and friends like us. Just as one student can make a difference to the world around them, so a single donor can make a difference by ensuring these opportunities are available.
As an institution, we rely on the undeniable energy of young minds to propel us forward. And the students rely on us, as donors, to open the doors of opportunity. They can't do it without us. Please join me and add your support to the 2011-12 Queen's Annual Appeal today.
Yours in thanks,
Daniel Woolf, Artsci'80
Principal and Vice-Chancellor