NUDGED ACROSS THE FINISH LINE -- 1,227 TIMES
Scholarships are like trophies. Top students win them. Awards usually enshrine the name and ideals of the donors. Media covers official presentations, pictures are taken, crowds cheer, and a new name joins the roster of winners. It's a heady experience and scholarships promoter excellence. But do the recipients really need the money?
Bursaries are a different, being based on need. The Masonic Foundation has a novel awards program that presents bursaries that help deserving students over the finish line. Over the past eight years, we have helped
1,227 final year students at 30 Ontario campuses complete their final year at a cost of $1,075,000. And their comments have made it worth while.
"Just when I thought I would not be able to pay for my last semester's tuition at Humber College, consequently not being able to graduate, I was advised by the Financial Aid Manager to apply for a Masonic Foundation Bursary. I hoped for the best, but what I did not expect was the full amount of $800. I will never be able to thank you enough . I am now able to finish my last semester and graduate."
The name, of course, is not published. The student worked hard for three years but hadn't scholarship levels. She was making it on her own until she went broke. People who quit school seldom go back, so we like to help them complete their studies.
A card from Windsor told of another career being launched:
"Thank you so much for investing in my dream of becoming a nurse so that I can continue to help others."
"Investing." It's an interesting word. It doesn't sound like charity.
And also in the health-sciences field:
"Your generous bursary will definitely be of assistance for my final year of school. I've just finished a one year placement in Sault Ste. Marie and I plan to graduate in August as a certified Medical Radiation Technologist from Cambrian in Sudbury."
And looking at the program through international eyes, this letter came from a Mohawk College nursing student in Hamilton:
"I am so happy and proud to be one of the recipients of the Ontario Opportunity Trust Fund sponsored the Masonic Foundation. I was even happier to learn who the sponsors were because my own father belongs to this brotherhood. He is a member of lodge 144 of Salano in the Philippines. From both ends of the world I have seen the good deeds being done by Masons. It came at a time when I needed it. Thank you very much and more power to the Masons."
We didn't know her father was a Mason until we received the thank-you note, but it was nice to hear. Officials at the colleges recommend worthy candidates based upon need and ability.
And sometimes help changes despair to light:
"During a time I thought my life was not worth living. You helped me see the light. With your Foundation, I am now able to continue with my dream and graduate at the University of Toronto. I have realized that life takes some unexpected turns and if you are able to ask someone for help, willing individuals will be there. I can't thank you enough."
"Your gift has given me the ability to complete my education and gain employment that does not just give me a job, but a career. There are many things in life I need to accomplish. I am planning to work for as long as possible and give support to others who are facing challenges similar to mine. The most important message is that in this time of self-interest, there are organizations and people who care and are willing to support worthy causes."
" I am currently a student at Trent in Peterborough and I appreciate your contributions towards young students like myself. It is a difficult journey through university and having to experience financial difficulties becomes a big strain on one's academics. I really enjoyed meeting with some of your members and learning about recent contributions to cochlear implants. I was excited when I heard about this because I am pursuing a career in educating children with special needs."
The bursary program of the Masonic Foundation is supported by contributions to the Foundation. Revenue from the investments funds the bursaries, leaving the capital untouched. However, a few new truths are confronting the students and the Foundation.
Tuition fees are rising.
Part time work, even when it is available, can't keep up with inflation.
Students trying to make ends meet frequently burn out fiscally and academically.
More students need more help in tough times. All this means a greater demand on our resources. We hate saying "no" to people like those who have written the above letters.
Part of the solution is participating in the Yellow Envelope Program or by sending a cheque to The Masonic Foundation for an investment in people. Donations are tax deductible.
Comments are Welcome
V.W. Bro. Ted Morris
76 Ballacaine Drive, Etobicoke, ON, M8Y 4B7
If you want to chat, call Ted at (416) 232 - 9545 or (705) 448 - 2574