40 Kingstonians to be honoured in ‘Behind the Mask’ book fundraiser

Over 40 Kingston community members—including front-line workers, grocery store clerks, the mayor, and volunteers—will be the subject of a commemorative book honouring their work during the pandemic.

We saw amazing things happen here [in Kingston] during the pandemic. It’s something that hopefully we never have to live through again, but it was definitely a moment in history for all of us.”

Marci Mcmullen

The limited-edition 100-page coffee table book, titled Behind the Mask, costs $40. Proceeds will go to a variety of local charities in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Kingston, with a fundraising goal of $50,000.

Cultivate Kingston is launching a commemorative book fundraiser called Behind The Mask, a collection of stories from front-line workers and volunteers in Kingston during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image via Cultivate Kingston.

“We just thought it would be cool to celebrate our community that did incredibly well throughout the whole pandemic, keeping our [COVID-19] numbers low and supporting one another,” said Marci McMullen, who came up with the fundraising idea along with co-director Cathie Calarco from Cultivate Kingston.

McMullen said that they talked about different ways of fundraising during the pandemic, but landed on the concept for the book due to enthusiasm from everyone involved.

“The idea for the book came up. We ran some numbers [and] ran it by the board of directors for the Rotary Club [of Kingston]. Everybody seemed happy with the idea,” she said.

Calls for nominations from the community were put out for “somebody who did something special during the pandemic.”

Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson will be profiled in the book, as well as volunteers from Lionhearts Inc. who organized and served over 80,000 meals to support those who needed help during the pandemic.

Lionhearts Inc. volunteers pose for photographer Stephen Wild. Photo by Yona Harvey.

Taking an “organic” approach, McMulllen said that photographs will be taken of community members “within their houses [or wherever they were], doing what they were doing during the pandemic.” A brief biography and a collection of stories from front-line workers and essential workers will also be included.

“We saw amazing things happen [in Kingston] during the pandemic. It was amazing to see how the business owners who were non-essential reacted and the different things they were doing to get their businesses going, [as well as] the support our community was giving to one another. It’s something that hopefully we never have to live through again, but it was definitely a moment in history for all of us,” McMullen stated.

Two local photographers—Stephen Wild and Suzy Lamont—were tapped to help with the project. McMullen said, “They wanted to get involved. They’re super-talented photographers, and they’re giving us a charitable rate for the book just to cover their expenses.”

Photographer Stephen Wild smiles as he takes photos for the Behind the Mask book fundraiser. Photo by Yona Harvey.

“Throughout the pages of this book, we will introduce you to an inspirational group of Kingstonians that represent all walks of life in this incredible community,” Cultivate Kingston’s press release stated.

“They are your neighbours, your friends. They are business owners and leaders of organizations. They are you. They are all of us. With their dedication, we’ve stayed strong as we navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic – together as one.” 

Behind the Mask is now available for pre-order through the cultivatekingston.com website. There will only be 2,500 copies made of the book.

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