Kingston Couple Create New Fund in honour of Marguerite Bourgeoys
This is a story about courage and resilience. Karen (not her real name), is homeless. She sometimes sleeps in a shelter, but most often she sleeps outdoors. Karen worked for 20+ years as a Personal Support Worker. As Karen aged, her job became physically too difficult for her to manage. Without sufficient income, Karen was no longer able to pay rent. Every day, Karen must find a way to fulfill her basic needs (public washrooms are important!). It takes courage and resilience for Karen to manage ‘life’.
Alice and Ray Gazeley have never met Karen, however, they are familiar with the struggle of the homeless and those in our community with limited incomes. They were both born into large families and their parents instilled in them the precept of love your neighbor as yourself. Alice and Ray have volunteered thousands of hours with agencies committed to providing affordable housing for people like Karen.
With assistance and guidance from Community Foundation for Kingston & Area (CFKA), Executive Director Tina Bailey, the Gazeleys have created the Marguerite Bourgeoys Housing Fund. The fund is the fruition of their commitment to the belief that all people in our community should have a place to call home. Alice and Ray acknowledge that government has the primary role to support citizens in need; this fund is meant to “support innovative ways to address housing issues and provide greater access to truly affordable housing” in Kingston and area.
Alice is an associate and friend of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame (CND), the order of nuns founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys. In 1642, Paul de Maisonneuve invited Marguerite to sail from France to Ville Marie (now Montreal). Marguerite Bourgeoys opened the first school in Canada. The Sisters of CND were unlike other religious congregations; they chose to live in the communities where they worked. Marguerite’s life exemplified courage and resilience.
On April 17, 2020, the Sisters of CND will celebrate the 400th Anniversary of Marguerite’s birth. Her charism is alive today in the Sisters who continue to serve in eight countries around the world. The CND Sisters are well known in Kingston. They have served the Kingston community since 1841. Local media recently reported that a time capsule was unearthed at the site of the former CND convent; within was a small statue considered to be a representation of Marguerite. The Sisters sold the property to the City of Kingston with the caveat that affordable housing be built on the site. Alice and Ray agree it is fitting that the fund will be introduced to honour the anniversary of Marguerite’s birth.
A place to call home is important to everyone. The 2018 City of Kingston Report on Housing and Homeless notes there are approximately 200 people living in Kingston and area without a permanent home. Karen is only one of them. Alice and Ray hope that the establishment of this fund in Marguerite’s name will provide opportunity for people in our community to support Karen and others most in need of a place to call home.
Donations of all sizes are welcome to help people like Karen find affordable housing.