HOST program - currently supporting students at All Saints
HELP OUR STUDENTS PROGRAM
Dreams come true.
When a friend and I started the Help Our Students Program in 2010, giving financial assistance to hard-working students living in difficult financial circumstances so they can graduate high school, we were able to help three students from two local high schools. Our dream was that, one day, we could help one student in every Ottawa high school. This year, we are giving $1,000 awards - $100 per month from September through June – to 109 students - at least one boy and one girl - from 52 high schools.
This achievement is due to the incredible support that we have received from individuals, organizations and businesses. What has attracted them? Three reasons, I think.
One, it’s a great cause. Graduating high school is not the final step but it opens the door to so many opportunities that aren’t there without a high school diploma. We know that we are helping many Ottawa students reach that goal.
“I have used some of the money that I receive from the HOST Program for food at home which helped me a lot in my academics because I did not have to worry about what my siblings will have to take for lunch at school or eat at home. It also helped me to continue saving for my education after I graduate since I did not have to use the little that I get from my recent job to give it to my parents. Since I started receiving this money I have been able to carry a lunch pack for myself because I know that my young brothers and sisters at least have enough to eat.”
Two, donors receive a report twice a year that contains letters from every recipient, describing how the award has impacted their lives. Donations are going to local boys and girls who are often in dire straits. Donors can read the moving and uplifting letters that tell them that they are making a real difference in someone’s life. For many of us, $100 is not a lot of money but, for these students, it makes a big difference in their lives, gives them hope for a future and allows them to feel “normal”.
“With the help of the Host Program, I was able to attend prom and enjoy a fun night with my friends. Normally these things are not an option for me. In the end, I was able to feel normal at my school among my peers.”
Finally, every donation goes directly to a student. Donations are not used for administration. The volunteer Board of Directors pays those expenses. So $100 to the Help Our Students Program is $100 to a student in need.
“Things haven’t been going to great at home and I’ve been trying my best to get to school every day. I’ve used the money to buy food for lunches, clothes as needed, medicine; I’ve also helped with rent a couple times, and other little things here and there.”
The recipients are selected by the high schools. They know best who is working hard to get through high school and who needs help getting by. Every school in Ottawa, regardless of its location, has students who live in difficult financial circumstances.
“Before being chosen for the HOST, I was just about ready to give up in school. I was not in a good place, and felt as if nobody cared about what I did. Now, I feel like someone does care about me and my future. It makes me want to do the best I can in school to be successful and be able to give back, just like this program is doing for me. Some of the money being given to me by this program went into hot lunches and bus tickets.”
Our web site contains all of the letters that we have received since 2010. You can easily make a donation either by sending a cheque or donating online by making a one-time or a monthly donation using your credit card or PayPal.
We now have a new dream: to keep helping at least one boy and one girl in every Ottawa high school. It’s a big dream.
At this time of year, helping students in need is a wonderful way to celebrate the true spirit of giving.