Ron Koskie had a dream
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/10/2020 (845 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
“We are pleased to announce that a milestone has been reached regarding the LRSD Retired Teachers/Support Staff bursary fund, something that seemed impossible when it was started in 1998 with $55.17.”
— Ron Koskie
I wish I could capture in words the passion, the fire, that flashed from Ron’s eyes as he spoke. When I interviewed him, he announced that it was not a single but a three-fold milestone that teacher and support staff retirees were celebrating:
1) Bursaries have been awarded for 20 years, from 2000 through 2019.
2) One hundred bursaries have been awarded over the 20 years to high school graduates in Grade 12 at the eight high schools in LRSD, for a total output of $42,000.
3) In 20 years we have raised over $100,000 — $102,472, to be exact. And our bursary fund account, held by the Louis Riel School Division still has $60,472.
Ron, humble as always, would not discuss his own role in making the bursary project happen. Before writing this column, I decided to solicit comments from Edith Alexiuk and Jerry Ilchyna, key people on the early committees with founders Victoria Olchowecki and Eileen Wilson.
Edith remembers how the luncheons were great social occasions twice a year until Ron joined the group in 1998 and began serving as co-chair with Jerry Ilchyna. Immediately, Ron’s idea of raising money towards bursaries at these get-togethers took hold. He canvassed St. Vital businesses for donations of goods or services to distribute and add pizzazz at our luncheons.
The project grew. Ron never failed to advertise the names of these willing donors and write them letters of thanks. Teachers bought raffle tickets, gave cash donations of $10, and joined anonymous donors in giving $20, $25, $100, $500 or 1$,000 (several gave $5,000).
Jerry didn’t bat an eye in also giving full credit to Ron for the concept of annual golf tournaments as fundraisers. A success story again. With their wives, the late Jo-Ann Koskie and Gerry Ilchyna, playing key roles in organizing and helping to run the events, they ended up being sold out for the last 12 years. With Jo-Ann’s help, our activities were recorded twice a year in Ron’s indispensable, informative, five-page newsletters.
That’s how the bursaries came to be. The most amazing thing is that with COVID-19 raging around the world, in 2020 we missed out on two luncheons, the golf tournament, and other fundraising opportunities.
Regardless, the eight high schools were still presented $500 each for worthy Grade 12 student as chosen by each school.
Student recipients have been very appreciative and feel honored upon receiving this financial help.
But is it now time to honor Ron Koskie (plus Jo-Ann) in some concrete way — as a thank you from the community he has lived in and loved and served all his life in so many ways?
Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Vital community correspondent
Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.