Cool temperatures moved Upper Canada College’s annual volunteer reception inside from Grant House garden on May 12, but the warm feelings in the student centre were palpable.
It was the appreciation that the 120 attendees felt for UCC community volunteers who do their part in numerous ways, including: admissions volunteers; Association Council members; Blues Booster Club (BBC) and Arts Booster Club (ABC) members; class presidents; class ambassadors; Young Alumni Network members; campaign chairs and volunteers; Common Ties advisory committee members and mentors; and those involved with the Prep Parents’ Organization (PPO) and Parents’ Organization (PO).
“You all give your time, energy and skills freely, and with no expectation of reward,” says head of the Prep and Upper School Don Kawasoe, who filled in for principal Jim Power, who was out of town and unable to make it back in time due to a grounded flight. “Your hours of service ensure the success of so many school activities and events.”
PO president Barbara Bottini just completed her term and PPO chair Stephanie Coffey will end hers in September. They were both thanked from the stage by Kawasoe.
Association Council president Alexander Younger ’89 was charged with the responsibility of announcing this year’s winners of Harold A. D. Roberts Circle Awards, which recognize substantial contributions or special service by members of the UCC Association, either through short-term involvement or long-term commitment.
Bruce Roberts ’82, grandson of Harold A. D. Roberts, joined Younger at the podium to thank this year’s recipients and present them with ceremonial pins to close the proceedings.
Jill Adolphe is the parent of three sons at UCC, Alexander and Nicholas in Grade 10 and Christopher in Grade 7. She’s been an active volunteer since her sons entered the school in 2007 and was co-chair, along with Johanne Dotsikas, of the past two Association Days. Adolphe founded the father/son Blue Ties breakfast at the Prep in 2011 and is now working with the school administration, Janet Moffat and Dotsikas to plan a special event for the grade 7 graduating class. She’s a former PPO chair and now sits on the Association Council. She also co-chaired the silent auction for the Believe in Blue Gala along with Bottini.
“It’s a great honour and privilege to win this award, and it’s been fabulous volunteering because it’s for the boys and for the school,” Adolphe says of her entry into the Harold A.D. Roberts Circle. “I’ve made a lot of great friends and we’re like one big family.”
Rajbir Ahluwalia is the mother of Simran Ahluwalia ’12 and Grade 12 student Harkirat Ahluwalia. She serves on both the BBC and ABC, but can be found taking photos at pretty much every UCC event. This is a quote from her nomination:
“Raj’s flexibility and dedication have been exemplary, and have gone above and beyond the call of duty. With her professional quality photography, Raj has believed in our boys by depicting and documenting all that excites and motivates them.”
Ahluwalia says she felt thankful and honoured for the recognition and that volunteering at the College has given her so much.
“I came to UCC not knowing photography, but I had a camera. I didn’t know anyone in the community, so volunteering was a way of meeting people, and they soon became an extended family.”
Neera Chopra is the mother of Savinay Chopra, who graduated last year. She’s held several volunteer positions at the College, including PO president in 2013/14 and ABC chair the year before that, when she founded the Nuit Bleue spring arts festival. Chopra was a committee volunteer for the Blue Ties Gala and served on the 2012 fine wine auction committee.
“She always chose to do the right thing for the boys and the College without ever displaying a personal agenda,” says her nomination. “She has remarkable diplomatic skills and an amazing heart.”
“It’s so meaningful to have this award because you’re recognized by your peers and all of the people who you worked with for so many years,” says Chopra.
“I think it’s very important to volunteer where your children go to school if you’re lucky enough to be able to donate the time and effort, and I really enjoy being here. With the people who I’ve met and the friendships that I’ve garnered, it’s been a thrilling experience.”
Susan Eplett is the mother of Old Boys Richard, Matthew and Charlie Walker, while her son Robert is in Grade 10. She’s shown an extraordinary commitment to the arts and the ABC and has been an active volunteer since her eldest son came to UCC 12 years ago. Eplett has also spent hundreds of hours supporting the UCC rowing team. Her legacy will include an arts and academic achievement award that will be launched this fall and the initiation of the school’s first mother-son dinner theatre event.
“I feel like I should be the one who’s thanking other people for all the support that’s been given and the ideas that the ABC has raised over the years,” says Eplett. “People within the UCC administration and the arts faculty and the ABC members have all done what they can to support the boys and the arts.
“I also like to support they boys in rowing because they work really hard.”