By Alexya Heelis
Earlier this month, we were able to bring back our Seeing is Believing Trolley Tour, bringing donors along on a ride to different funded partners to see and hear from the people that their generosity supports.
And I have to tell you, it was such a heartwarming experience.
While this is usually a once-every-other-year event, the pandemic has prevented us from holding it over the last several years.
So this one proved extra special. But don’t just take it from me.
Kayla Dormody, a vice-president with Royal Bank, was so immersed she forgot to take photos.
“I was so engaged, amazed and overwhelmed learning about the purpose and mission of incredible community organizations,” she said. “The moments will be forever captured in my mind, however.”
Kayla was one of nearly 30 individual, workplace and corporate donors who met at our office on Richmond Street on May 17, boarding a motorized trolley provided by Million Dollar Pledge member Aquila Tours.
From there, our first stop was First Steps Housing Project, where we went inside the house to hear about its history of helping women in our community, met some moms and their babies, saw a new playroom and enjoyed some treats.
Our next stop was Sophia Recovery Centre, where we were given a tour, heard how they were helping women overcome addiction and learned about their growth and expansion into Rothesay and St. Stephen.
Then we drove over to Sistema’s Saint John Centre, where we were treated to a performance from first-year students. What a delight – we were amazed by their focus and abilities!
Then over at the Saint John Learning Exchange and the Women’s Empowerment Network, we met Roxanne, who shared her inspiring experience with the organizations and how they positively impacted her self-esteem and life goals.
From there, we walked over to the Teen Resource Centre, and were greeted by students running the “FAR Away Kitchen” who served fresh lemon-aid and puff-puffs, a treat from Sierra Leone where one of the students is from.
After the treats, we were given a tour by two of their youth who showed us the after-school drop-in centre, and the Pathways program space where youth can find help with tutoring and many other life challenges.
One of our tour guides shared how he learned English in six months by attending the Teen Resource Centre – what an impressive achievement!
Throughout the tour, I also shared about many other programs and impacts that are happening throughout Saint John, Kings and Charlotte thanks to the generosity of donors.
And hearing from the donors on tour, it was obvious they appreciated the opportunity to learn first-hand the impact the donations were having.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the trolley tour and shared the experience with the rest of our senior leadership team,” said Ryan Mitchell, President & CEO of Saint John Energy. “It is nice to see our funding support being used for such great causes.”