College Students Spearhead Successful Fundraiser for Koala Place

Jason Setnyk
College Students Spearhead Successful Fundraiser for Koala Place
Kurt Riemersma, Mary Lynn Burns, Melissa Ruffo, Chantal Prieur, and Britt Doyon at a Fundraising Dinner for Koala Place (Photo : Jason Setnyk)

Cornwall, Ontario – On March 23rd, BGC Cornwall/SDG was bustling with community support for Kori’s Koala Friends Fundraising Dinner. The event, organized by a group of St. Lawrence College (SLC) Social Worker students, aimed to raise funds and awareness for Koala Place. The Youth Advocacy Centre offers services to children, youth, and vulnerable persons who have endured sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, and maltreatment.

Kurt Riemersma, an SLC student and one of ten co-organizers, shared his inspiration for the event, “I went to their 10th anniversary event and saw the invaluable work they do in the community. We wanted to bring education and awareness to the community about them.” The fundraiser, initially a college project, evolved into a community-wide effort, raising approximately $2,800.

Britt Doyon, another co-organizer, emphasized the importance of Koala Place, “They provide services to children, youth, and sometimes vulnerable adults, victims of family violence, domestic violence, and human trafficking as well. It provides a safe and comfortable environment for them to tell their stories.” Doyon also expressed gratitude to BGC and The United Way of SDG for their support in making the event possible.

Chantal Prieur, Executive Director of Koala Place, highlighted the center’s role in the community, “We provide a safe space where vulnerable children and youth can share their story of abuse, equipped with video and audio specialized equipment. The victim can tell their story and if it proceeds to criminal charges and trial, the victim doesn’t have to tell their story a second time or a third time.”

The event featured guest speakers, a sit-down dinner, a raffle, and a bake sale, all contributing to the fundraising efforts. Prieur praised the college students for their professionalism and enthusiasm, “It’s been a pleasure handing this opportunity to the college students and seeing them lead it. We would partner with them any day of the week. They have been professional, enthusiastic, and bring energy to move the project forward. I would give them an A+, they did so well with this.”

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