Hearing that your Pearson College UWC 40 Year Reunion is cancelled could have been a crushing disappointment. But for alumni of Class Years 3, 4, 5 and 6, this news was a challenge heartily accepted. Their sense of joy in community in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was very strong – and so was the sense that this was a moment that could be turned into action.

A small group of alumni started planning for a scholarship initiative ahead of the reunion – ultimately 135-150 people representing Years 3,4,5,6 came together to reach out to all their classmates with a vision of raising four full scholarships from their 40-year reunion.  The vision was a sort of living endowment and a significant contribution to the College by some of its earliest alum. Several people from each year responded to this call, willing to reach out to ask for gifts and pledges over the next five years in order to make this vision a reality.

They agreed to reach out to as many of their classmates as possible. This was a chance to genuinely reconnect with some very special people, and to invite them to be a part of the group they named the “60s Boost.” These conversations stretched back over 40 years and resulted in collective support that will impact the future of the College for another 40 years.  Many people from each class responded with gifts ranging from $5 to $50,000 and more, each alum contributing what they could, each gift important and appreciated. Together, the classes attending their (virtual) 40 Year Reunion in 2020 have raised more than $750,000 to date that will be donated over the next five years – an extraordinary achievement any year, but this year of Covid 19, even more so.

In the midst of this endeavour, a classmate from Kenya caught the Coronavirus, and needed financial support to get medical treatment. The group came together and supported him until he was able to fully recover.

Patricia Williams (Year 5/1980, Ecuador) said, “This [40th Year Reunion] group is like a precious jewel, having shared two years together and now reuniting is a blessing. People are willing to help, to open their arms and hearts and provide comfort and joy, when it is time to laugh and send jokes they are there, and when you need a hand they are also there. I see there is so much potential that we should not lose the connection we have now.”

Thank you to everyone who was able to contribute and close the gap – together Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 successfully raised full scholarships for four students to attend Pearson College UWC this year. Congratulations!

A very special thank you to the lead volunteers (Year 3: Martin Harvey, Maria Gloria Andrade Lasso, John MacRichie, Sandra Cunningham, Mats Ronne; Year 4: Sarah Dingle, Ciro Echesortu; Year 5: Jorge Titinger, Lene Tangevald-Jensen, Patricia Williams; Year 6: Pierre Lavallee) for making lemons out of lemonade by bringing your classmates around the world together in such a powerful way.

If you and your class or group are interested in talking about how to help raise scholarship funds, please contact Jacqui at jterrycarroll@pearsoncollege.ca. Together we can continue a Pearson College UWC tradition: uniting the community to create a sustainable future for all.