In My Opinion
I n today’s society, there is something remarkably admirable about a young person who would work hard to raise money to pay for the privilege of going to a foreign country to volunteer as an unpaid educator of largely underprivileged kids.
I don’t know whether that’s remarkable because there are relatively few unselfish individuals among the emerging generation or because the mainstream news media find it more profitable to print or talk about the other kind.
Unfortunately, there appear to be no statistics available on the topic.
In any event, I find it noteworthy that Lauren Dunlop, 20, who’s a third-year student in a five-year Education course at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford campus (Laurier Brantford) would spend Friday, April 12, preparing and serving a scalloped potato/ham supper to raise all or part of a $2,900 fee to go on a voluntary teaching gig in Peru at a time when the television screen will likely be portraying all the fun things the kids could be setting their sights upon doing.
But Lauren, the daughter of Shelburne Councillor Geoff Dunlop, would rather be volunteering to help others than doing almost anything else. She has demonstrated that by serving on the CDDHS student council throughout her high school career, by volunteering at Shepherd’s Cupboard food bank in her teens and by continuing to volunteer at a Brantford campus food bank in university while serving as president of Best Buddies, a student group that teams with handicapped youngsters, and otherwise earning herself a Volunteer of the Year Award.
Her Peruvian sojourn this spring is with Solidarity in Action. This is how the website describes the persons it wants for the voluntary gig:
“Solidarity in Action and Laurier International are looking for engaged and motivated university students and faculty to participate in this community development, cultural immersion experience. Break away from your comfort zone and see how making a difference in a person’s life can change your life,” the website says.
Part of the program is teaching English “to members of Pacifico de Villa and students from the local public school” but Lauren is excited that she and her group will be able to initiate programs that the local people would be able to carry on.
The program also includes working alongside “the caring teachers and wonderful students from a Lima public school for children with disabilities.”
Lauren is a shining example of a young person who knows where she’s going in life. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher (and) I love to volunteer,” she said in an interview Sunday. She might come by her teaching aspirations naturally. Lauren’s father, Geoff, is a retired teacher and also a dedicated councilor in Shelburne. Her mother, Arda, is a behavioural specialist but also the voluntary person in charge of Shepherd’s Cupboard food bank.
The dinner at Trinity United Church is from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 12. The suggested price is $10 for adults or $5 for children. Anyone who wishes to make a tax-deductible donation would be given a tax receipt for $20 or more beyond the suggested price of the meal.
The Peruvian school is also in need of items such as pencils but also personal hygiene things such as toothpaste. Lauren said she is allowed one extra suitcase in which to carry such donations.
“We just leave the suitcase with the donated items after we leave,” she said.
Scalloped potatoes and ham is one of my favorite meals. So the dinner is a rare opportunity to enjoy a favored repast while supporting a worthy cause. And the $10 tab seems more than reasonable for the equivalent of a home-cooked meal.
This has also given me an opportunity to search for pencils, including a box of the half-length golf variety and anything else of that nature I might be able to find.
This would be a much brighter world if we had more persons – of all ages – who displayed charitable attitudes similar to those displayed by Lauren and others of her ilk.
While writing this, I received a call from Deborah Ellis at the McKelvie Burnside complex in Shelburne. Ms. Ellis is 58 and confined to a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis.
She said she lives life, loves her town, and is grateful to March of Dimes for “giving me my life.”
However, she said the layout of her unit is such that she cannot access cupboards or even her sink while in her wheelchair. And the carpeted floor makes it a challenge to get from one room to another in a wheelchair.
She was gratified that the county has interviewed residents and has noted deficiencies. But she said no one had spoken to her.
If they had, she would have suggested the deficiencies at McKelvie Burnside should be corrected before the planned hospital conversion is undertaken.