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Sunday May 3rd, 2015

Posted at 10:44pm

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House of Shalom program director Holly Kirk-McLean receives funds from Windsor SOUP’s Amherstburg event from soup coordinator Katie Zajner and project manager Kevin Hu.

A Windsor microgrant program is changing the community, one bowl of soup at a time.

Windsor Soup, in partnership with Pathway to Potential, Libro Credit Union and the P. and L. Odette Charitable Foundation, has made its way to Amherstburg, giving four organizations, either social enterprises or not for profits, the opportunity to benefit their communities further. Now in its second year, the event has raised over $20,000 to help organizations in Windsor and Essex county reach their goals.

Just over 100 people gathered in the community room at the Libro Credit Union Centre Sunday evening to hear about four very different organizations and why they deserved the funds being raised.

First up to the stand was Revolution Youth Theatre (RYT) who explained how their organization allows for youth in the community the opportunity to experience being a part of a theatre company – at no cost to the participant.

“We believe theatre is more than what occurs on stage,” Lily Thibert, a young actress with RYT, explained to the audience. “No one should be limited in their ability to experience the thrill of theatre by lack of desire to act. It is our mission to be accessible to all youth, regardless of areas of interest. We believe if you have an artistic passion, we have a place for you to express yourself.”

The second organization to hold the microphone was Firehorse Leadership Organization which, in partnership with Sara Parks Horsemanship and Access, partners people with horses empowering them through an equine bond, which founder and executive director Michelle Stein says is very unique.

The third organization to express their impact on the community was the House of Shalom Youth Centre who has been a part of the Amherstburg community for 43 years. Former member and current leader Kevin Jarvis explained how the House of Shalom impacts the community through it’s mentorship programs, while program director Holly Kirk-McLean shared a success story with the crowd about a young man who walked through the doors quiet and shy, but left confident with his head held high.

The final organization was a group of three young women who were inspired by individuality to become entrepreneurs. Sara Newman, Cattrina Crosby, Sarah Sinasac and Maya Jacah-Popopich are students from Sandwich Secondary High School working together on an organization called Tag Me, which sees the foursome create unique tags for gym bags, backpacks and other personal items. They also work with a number of organizations in the Windsor and Essex county area, including the Gay Straight Alliance at their high school, empowering students to express their individuality.

When all the presentations were done, the last spoonful of soup was sipped and the final cupcake was enjoyed, Windsor SOUP project manager Kevin Hu and soup coordinator Katie Zajner tallied the votes and announced the House of Shalom Youth Centre as the beneficiaries of the night.

“It gave us another opportunity to present who we are and what we do, the impact that we have not only on the youth but ultimately the impact that that in turn has on our community as a while,” said Kirk-McLean. “To win those dollars that we can now take back to the House of Shalom and we can utilize as we best need to right now is fantastic.”

$552 in cash has been donated to the House of Shalom Youth Centre. Additionally, the Libro Credit Union will be donating $500 and the P. and L. Odette Charitable Foundation will be matching the $552 raised for a grand total of $1,604.

Although not every organization could walk away with a monetary edge, Firehorse’s executive director Stein explained being able to reach out to the community and network with other organizations whom they can partner with is even more beneficial to the organization in some ways.

“We’ve very honoured to be here,” said Stein. “We take pride in getting some awareness, that’s part of our whole goal is to make people aware of the benefits that happen when horses and people work together, the leadership development that takes place, and it really is a beautiful thing to be here with other community entrepreneurs and other community groups … it’s an amazing thing to support each other.”

Actress Lily Thibert from Revolution Youth Theatre tells the crowd what the theatre company does for youth in the area.

Sara Parks explains her partnership with Firehorse Leadership Organization.

Former member and current leader at the House of Shalom, Kevin Jarvis, explains the goal of the House in Amherstburg.

House of Shalom program director Holly Kirk-McLean shares a success story about a young man who attended the House.

Sara Newman, Cattrina Crosby and Sarah Sinasac tell the audience about their organization Tag Me and how they’ve partnered with organizations in Windsor-Essex.

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