September 21, 2011
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 46 supports Toronto scholarships
Upbeat music filled the neighbourhood near Jane and Finch where seven community-minded young adults received scholarships and hundreds more received backpacks full of school supplies.
The Firgrove Back to School Drive returned to the community of Firgrove for the fifth year, thanks to the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 46, the Firgrove Tenant Association and the Jane-Finch Community Ministry.
Since 2007, the program has presented 27 youth with scholarships totaling $27,000 and distributed more than 4,800 backpacks to students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.
IUPAT District Council 46 business manager Bill Nicholls said this annual event is a point of pride in their organization.
“These people are trying to move on to a better way of life; we’re happy to come in here and assist them in every way we can.”
Nicholls said he hopes the students they are helping pursue higher education and return to the community to give back.
“We’re trying to instill into them that there’s a whole lot in life they can do and there’s a whole lot in life they can contribute to,” he said.
This year seven youth who are active in their community received $1,000 for their post secondary education.
IUPAT also helps out with the Firgrove women’s program.
It’s not only IUPAT, but the contractors and suppliers donate as well.
Firgrove community minister Barry Rieder said this is a wonderful initiative that has really been community-driven.
He said giving out backpacks for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, filled with specific supplies for each grade, helps put education on an even playing field.
“If you don’t have school supplies, it’s a lot harder. This just helps families out that much more, encourages kids around going to school.”
The scholarships aren’t based just on scholastic grades - they are based on how the recipients have given back to their community.
Community member Maryann Hilowle had the idea to start a scholarship fund after she paid off her student loans and wanted to help others in similar situations.
“The community that we are living in is a so-called priority neighbourhood, so it’s meaningful to them, some parents cannot afford backpacks and school supplies, especially those that don’t work and depend on the system.”
Francis Atta was one of the young adults who received a $1,000 scholarship this year. He said it means a lot to him and his community.
“A lot of these kids that live up here, it means that seeing somebody that grew up here getting all these opportunities, it gives them a chance to see that if I could do it, they could definitely do all the things that I’m doing.”
Other $1,000 scholarship recipients were Ifrah Ibrahim, Eman Helal, Josephine Akyeampong, Faiza Muse, Faduma Osman and Phebean Komeh.
Reider said it’s been great to have IUPAT as a stable influence on the community instead of just coming in once.
“Relationships are built over time and the more you continue to journey with the community, the more you benefit from it and the more the community benefits from it,” he said.
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