Afterthoughts from the Gala

I sit here at the Boston airport at 5:00 AM on the Sunday morning after the gala awaiting my flight. Yes, this means I’ve started my travels back to Toronto at 4:00 AM this morning, and it also means that there hasn’t been any shuteye since the gala. I’m running off of an indescribable feeling after meeting the “family” this weekend in Boston. Whether I was being greeted by supporters or simply sitting in the lobby of the hotel drinking hot cocoa at 3:00 a.m. with former grantees; I felt welcomed.

It’s funny, the first encounter I had with a member of Shooting Touch was with the former grantee Leah Westbrook.

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Me and Remy with Justin and Lindsey

She was sitting outside my hotel room with all of her luggage. I thought; “does this girl know there is only one bed?” as she threw her stuff in the room. Soon afterwards Priscilla Dodoo joined us in now “our” one bed hotel room. Jam packed and all, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The weekend kicked off with a Friday night dinner with the board members. I’m not going to lie, hearing this made me a tad bit nervous. Thinking, “I am going to meet these big shots who are going to want me to write up a plan of exactly what I am doing for the 10 month time frame in Rwanda, ahh!!” To my relief I received multiple “Congratulations!” or “How excited are you?!” as I was welcomed with open arms. Everyone was extremely humble and genuine and I could not ask for a better organization to begin my journey with.

After the mingling and getting to know everyone, a 6-minute documentary of ST’s work in Rwanda was shown. Honestly, if I had the chance I would have packed my bags and gone straight to Rwanda that very moment (I’m sure everyone watching felt the same way). I don’t think there was one person in the room that didn’t have goose bumps after watching it. Any doubt that I may have had was washed away with pure determination to succeed and make a difference while I’m out there. That night really shaped my views on whom I’m working with and what I will be doing.

I could repeat this a million times but there is no other group that I would rather grow with.

Saturday was the big day, the 5th annual gala! This was the day that Lindsey, Justin and many others have been working countless hours on. With this being said, my plan was to stay out of their way, they were on a mission!

During this time we took advantage of the day and had a full four hour orientation. Covering any issues that may arise in while in Rwanda; who to contact, where to build, what to bring, and the list goes on. I can’t remember the last time I was focused for that long of a time frame but I didn’t want to miss a beat. These were all topics and questions that I’ve had since I found out I was the selected grantee. My mom also got to sit in on the orientation, which eased her mind about shipping me across the world. It also gave me ideas on what events I could do with the kids and how to get this youth league set!

When 5:00 pm hit that evening we were on our way to the Gala. It was spectacular. The amount of time that went into this event did not go unnoticed. Over 300 supporters attended this event. Once again, feeling a bit overwhelmed but thankful because they are all the reason that I’m given this opportunity. Besides the spectacular dance group of kids that performed at the beginning of the event (BTW, I seriously think I’m going to take dance lessons after watching that performance), my favorite moment was during the auction when true colors were shown. Hands were going up in every direction as supporters were donating to build courts for the years to come. 5 courts are to come from those donations!! This was just one incident but the night was filled with great moments shared amongst even better people.

To wrap this up, I think weekend was really important in seeing where the program has come from and where it is going. Remy and I have a huge task to get some leagues moving and I’m ready to tackle it! I know that I have a large family behind me ready to help in any way that they can so success is inevitable.

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