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Giving champions

GivingTuesday matching donors literally double support for Memorial students

Campus and Community

By Mandy Cook

Every year on GivingTuesday, the Memorial University community jumps into big-hearted action.

A smiling female student wearing a claret hoodie and a headset sits at a computer with a Giving Tuesday screen image.
Many students make calls to and answer phone calls from Memorial donors on GivingTuesday and all year round.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

On the most recent global day of giving, Nov. 29, 2022, alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members raised $157,048 — an amount earmarked entirely for student support.

A very special aspect of 2022’s GivingTuesday was Memorial’s matching donors.

The matching donors played a pivotal role with regards to a specific fund, the Thriving Student Fund.

Money from the Thriving Student Fund goes directly to Memorial students in the form of scholarships, bursaries and awards to increase their access to education and to help ensure students can focus on their studies. As well, all donations to the fund provide emergency funding to Memorial students who are in need of short-term support to cover the basic costs of living, such as food, heat, light and housing in order to continue their studies.

Thanks to this group of GivingTuesday “champions”, all gifts made to Memorial for Giving Tuesday (over a three-day period) were matched up to $50,000 with a donation to the Thriving Student Fund, doubling the impact of all GivingTuesday donors’ generosity.

These individuals’ belief in the power of the Memorial community prompted David Cohen (B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’87) and entrepreneur Boyd Cohen; Dr. Lee Errett (MD’77); Brian Lemessurier (B.Eng.’76); Bob McKay, (BA’80; B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’82) and Eileen Picco (B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’82); John Parsons (B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’99); and the local company Bluedrop, headed by Emad Rizkalla (B.Eng.’92), to step forward as 2022’s GivingTuesday champions.

Foundational experience

Dr. Lee Errett wears a jacket and striped shirt while standing in front of artwork.
Dr. Lee Errett (MD’77)

Giving Tuesday champion Dr. Errett is a professor of surgery at the University of Toronto.

He is also a longtime supporter of Memorial University.

When asked why he decided to support Memorial’s students on GivingTuesday in this way, he said that throughout the years since completing his medical degree, he realized just how valuable his time at Memorial was.

He says he and his fellow classmates had the good fortune to have excellent teachers and mentors who were enthusiastic about making contributions to a relatively new medical school.

“To this day I have not met teachers any better than some of the people we were lucky to have. That includes Queen’s, Oxford, McGill, Duke, Yale and Toronto,” he said.

It’s because of this foundational experience that Dr. Errett says he decided to give to his alma mater — and that it was “time to demonstrate some gratitude.”

“Initially, I gave furniture that included the board room, desks and benches that have stood the test of time,” he said. “A financial gift was given to encourage other medical graduates to join in, as my belief is that if all graduates give back, it will send a strong message to the public who may feel encouraged to give, as well.”

‘Do what we can’

Lisa Browne, vice-president (advancement and external relations), says participating in GivingTuesday is one of the most fulfilling parts of her job at Memorial.

“To see all the people in the Memorial community come together to make a difference for our students is incredibly moving,” she said. “Supporting students is at the forefront of everything we do at the university and I thank our GivingTuesday champions for making the event even more powerful.”

Dr. Errett says he knows from experience how having someone in your corner can make the difference between enrolling in post-secondary education and collecting a parchment with your name on it.

“Students who come from humble means need encouragement to even continue, sometimes,” he said. “Ideally, I would like them to know that help exists if they are willing to put the effort in to see it through medical school. My father was a janitor, but sent me $50 a month for which I will always be grateful. We should do what we can.”

Nov. 28, 2023

The Office of Development is looking towards this year’s GivingTuesday global day of giving on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. Mark your calendars!

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