Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blog Clouds and News

Hey everyone,

First off - just have to say that we had 13 (THIRTEEN) children at the Rideau Reading Circle on Saturday. It was a blast having that many children. So much fun. So now we just need a few more volunteers....:) Lyndsay, of course, is already on it.

Secondly, have to share this:

It's our Blog Cloud. Found the link courtesy of Book Moot. It's on a site called Snap Shirts. You just enter your Blog Address and title and it generates one of these. Then you can order T-shirts if you are so inclined. If we are still tossing around logo ideas for the back of coffee mugs might not be such a bad idea.... Also, you can keep regenerating it until you get one you like.

In other news, 50 Cent has decided to become a children's author (courtesy of Big A little a). The "Get Rich or Die Tryin' superstar will write books with a positive message for children. I'm trying not to be to skeptical on this one. Do stay tuned. Maybe hit da club while you wait.

Read Alert links to yet another list of worthwhile YA literature courtesy of Lotus Magazine (which I haven't heard of - so enlighten me).

And finally, on another slightly different track - aside from literacy I am a bit of a political junkie so I browse various Canadian political blogs of various stripes daily. I came across speculation about a National Breakfast Program in Elementary Schools on Bowie's Call HERE. By way of explanation - the blog is done by James Bowie who is an Ottawa area Young Liberal. The post is simply throwing the idea out for discussion. Should Young Liberals think the idea has merit, they might then propose a resolution on the issue at the next Party Policy Convention. It would then either be accepted or not. While SFLO is in no way partisan, the discussion of breakfast programs in elementary schools naturally ties in to literacy because children who each breakfast perform better. As such, I thought the ensuing commentary on the site might be interesting.

On food related issues thought this article on a Boys and Girls Club in Kingston and a dinner program was interesting:

PUBLICATION: The Kingston Whig-Standard
DATE: 2006.01.31
COLUMN: Jack Chiang

Nourishment on club's menu: Boys and Girls Club offers supper service

Those of us who volunteer our time for various community projects feel we're rewarded whenever we see concrete results.

The 1,500 volunteers for the United Way, for example, are always happy when their annual campaign comes to a successful conclusion. They know tens of thousands of less fortunate people depend on their efforts.

Likewise, the people who help the Alzheimer Society, the March of Dimes, the Cancer Society, Kingston Literacy and all the other good causes feel the same way.

That's why all those involved in the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingston feel pretty good right now.

"Last Friday, we had 110 kids at our club house [at 559 Bagot St.]. That was an all-time record," said Harold Parsons, executive director of the club.

In addition, the club has 20 outreach locations throughout the Greater Kingston area. At Cataraqui Woods, for example, the club runs programs three times a week. That's part of the response to the incidents of vandalism in that neighbourhood last year.

Kids are less likely to get into trouble if they have something worthwhile to do.

The reason for the increase in the number of children attending the Bagot Street club house - the former Robert Meek School - is the opening of the new supper program.

"It's been overwhelming. We started serving meals on Jan. 9. The lowest number we had is 65 a night," Harold said.

For years, we knew there was a need for a supper program at the club. Children would show up after school at 3:30 p.m. Many stayed at the club until closing time at 8 p.m. Some stayed because their parents were working. Others stayed because they liked it at the club.

We had nothing to feed these kids because we didn't have a proper kitchen.

Then, last October, everything came together. Jim Brown of Brown's Fine Foods got the ball rolling after he read an article I wrote about the lack of money to convert an old room in the club house into a modern kitchen.

Jim enlisted the help of Brian Makosky, his company's director of facility development; and David Cupido of Cupido Construction.

These three gentlemen made things happen. They got their friends to help in the renovation. They donated $100,000 worth of time and equipment.

They've made our dream come true.

Other organizations have also helped: McDonald's Restaurants donated $15,000 toward the upkeep of the kitchen. The City of Kingston's Community Fund committed $25,000 to hire the necessary staff. Rotary Club gave $5,000 - in addition to the $25,000 that the Rotarians donated toward the after-school programs.

These individuals and organizations have made a good club better.

Karen Sutherland, co-owner of the local McDonald's restaurants, is also chairwoman of the board of directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingston.

"We're pleased we can provide the service. The number has doubled since we started. Our philosophy is that we don't turn kids away," Karen said.

The menu changes every day, but the kitchen serves such things as salad, shepherd's pie, potato, lasagna, pizza and spaghetti. An average meals costs $1.25 a child.

"We're looking for donations of fresh vegetables and fruits," Karen said.

Now that the supper program is up and running, the club is looking for ways to sustain it. We're looking for grocery stores to donate $50 worth of food each week. We're looking for individuals who want to sponsor one or several kids a week.

I'm just throwing these ideas out. If you have better ideas or, better still, if you want to help, give me a call.

Jack Chiang can be reached at 544-5000, ext. 210 or jack@thewhig.com. He has been co-chair of the Boys and Girls Club's Always Home Campaign for four years. He is also a member of the provincial board of directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ontario and a former member of the National Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.


That's it for today!



At 9:29 AM, Blogger Kelly said...

Just stopping by to say you guys have the greatest club ever! Keep up the amazing work.


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