Editorial note: The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.
Queen’s students have taken some flack this year about their group activities during the pandemic, their lack of social distancing, and their contribution to local outbreaks. As is often the case, while some of that criticism is perhaps warranted for a very small group of students (some of whom were not connected with Queen’s at all) who have demonstrated less than responsible actions, Queen’s students as a whole, even those who are not responsible or were not participants in these activities, all seem to have been painted with the same brush!
Our experience with Queen’s students in the past few years has been a very positive one, and so we wanted to share our story, and shine a bright light on just a few of the many good things that Queen’s students do for our community.
As the Fundraiser and Volunteer Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of KFL&A, I work with people throughout the community, who are dedicated to supporting the Society with fundraising, awareness, and volunteer activities. The Queen’s University Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) Alzheimer Outreach Committee is one such group. I have had the privilege to work with them for the past five years. Each year, ASUS forms this group (and several others who work with other different organizations), which is made up of students who have an interest in working or volunteering in a related field, and many of whom have experience with family members and friends who are living with dementia. Although they are not paid to be part of the committee, they go through an interview process, and are given ‘positions’ within the committee. There are Co-Chairs who oversee the group activities, and work with committee members to plan, execute and promote activities on campus in support of the Society.
Past years have seen the creation of many different activities by this group, both on campus and working with community partners, including musical events, breakfasts, educational events, volunteers assisting with programming, fundraisers in partnership with local business, etc., and this year was no different. Despite the challenges working around COVID protocols, students doing virtual learning, very little activity on campus, and the Alzheimer Society programs not being held in person, the Alzheimer Outreach Committee, under the direction of Co-Chairs Gabby Hicks and Michelle Galper, found some creative ways to continue their activities. First, the group participated in an online training session about Alzheimers and Dementia, communication tips, and how we can help people to live well with dementia. Among the activities they hosted during the school year were a fundraiser with Tommy’s restaurant, a virtual run, an online cooking class fundraiser, and they volunteered at our holiday lights display at Rosewood Retirement Residence. And this year they raised over $2,400, the most ever raised by an ASUS Alzheimer Outreach Committee to date!
We have always enjoyed working with the Alzheimer Outreach committee. We are most grateful for their dedication to the cause, and for their creativity in designing annual awareness and fundraising activities. However, in a year where donations were down for charities across the country, this year’s efforts by Outreach Committee members were outstanding – and they brought an extra measure of enthusiasm to their activities, which has been greatly appreciated by both staff and the clients we serve.
We are proud to be associated with Queens and with the Alzheimer Outreach Committee, and we look forward to meeting the new group of students this fall! Special thanks also go to Tommy’s Restaurant, who partnered with this group this year, and to other local businesses who support the committee’s activities.
Fundraising and Volunteer Coordinator
On behalf of the Alzheimer Society of KFL&A