Remembering Randal

Left: Pictured from left to right are Suzie Gotha, Suzanne Narain, student recipient of the RDMEB, and Pearson Burch-Smith, Caribbean Market Consultant, Western Union

It takes a village to raise a child and a community to raise a bursary, as demonstrated by members of the Jane-Finch communities who recently presented the York University Foundation with a cheque for $33,480 in support of the Randal Dooley Memorial Entrance Bursary. The funds, organizers said at a press conference in the Chancellor’s Room at the Underground Restaurant on Wednesday, Feb. 11 were raised in the true spirit of community.

“This achievement really says a lot about the people of Jane and Finch,” said Suzie Gotha of Unlimited Events Marketing and the rallying force behind the bursary, “Together we have taken a tragedy and turned it into energy for our community and in the process, forged stronger links with York.”

Right:  Pictured from left to right are Pearson Burch-Smith (Western Union), Suzie Gotha, Ruby Pantoja (Western Union), Suzanne Narain, Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor, Robert Drummond, dean of the Faculty of Arts, and Paul Marcus, president and CEO of the York University Foundation

When people in the Jane-Finch area set out to honour the memory of a seven-year-old boy, Randal Dooley, who died at the hands of his parents in 1998, they chose York University’s Faculty of Arts as custodians of a bursary for high school students from the Jane-Finch region entering York. Toronto’s Roots and Culture Festival, a multicultural concert created specifically to raise money for this initiative, generated the first $8,000, which was then generously matched by corporate sponsor Western Union for a total of $16,000 in 2002.

The total number of donations now sits at over $50,000 thanks to the proceeds of the second Toronto Roots and Culture Festival which was held this past summer. The proceeds from the festival were matched dollar-for-dollar by the Ontario government through the Ontario Student Opportunities Trust Fund (OSOTF) program and matching funds from Western Union.

“Randal’s short life was one of unimaginable tragedy and this bursary is about hope,” said Pearson Burch-Smith, Caribbean Market Consultant from Western Union. “Supporting Randal’s memory in this way is very much in line with Western Union’s commitment to higher education and to helping perpetuate healthy communities.”

Robert Drummond, dean of the Faculty of Arts thanked all involved, including corporate sponsor Western Union, for their dedication to honouring Randal’s legacy, adding, “The bursary signifies the efforts of a devoted group of people coming together to put an end to family violence so that this kind of tragedy can have a positive side.”

Also in attendance were Lorna R. Marsden, president & vice-chancellor of York University, Bonnie Neuman, vice-president students, and Paul Marcus, president & CEO of the York University Foundation. Other guests included community leaders, organizers and volunteers, bursary donors, one of the first student recipients of the bursary, Suzanne Narain, and members of the media.

This story was submitted by Carrie Brodi, communications officer with the York University Foundation.