Program enables women to choose life
and continue their education

By Mike Mastromatteo
The Interim

The Rosalie Hall Foundation has added scholarships to its range of services to young women in crisis pregnancies. The scholarships, eligible to up to 10 high-achieving graduates of the Rosalie Hall secondary school program, enable young mothers to continue their education at the college or university level.

Founded in 1992, the Rosalie Hall Foundation is a registered charity that raises funds for programs serving young single mothers and their children. The foundation operates in conjunction with the Rosalie Hall residence, which provides education, life skills, counselling and medical services to young pregnant women who chose to carry their babies to term. For nearly four decades, Rosalie Hall has offered pregnant women and girls a life-affirming alternative to abortion.

An October 16 fashion show in Toronto was the culmination of a series of fund-raising events organized by the foundation to help support the new scholarships. Last year’s inaugural fashion show raised $45,000 for the foundation. Other fund-raising events held this year included a September golf tournament, a walkathon, and other activities aimed primarily at the corporate community.

According to Rosalie Hall Foundation executive director Eleanor McMillan, the organization has earmarked up to $200,000 to pay for 10 full scholarships. These will operate in addition to the smaller, partial scholarships already available through Rosalie Hall. The foundation’s board of directors formally approved the scholarship fund in June, 2000. The $200,000 initial funding for the scholarships was derived from funds donated in 1999-2000.

“The foundation felt it was more important to encourage our clients to continue their education, rather than have these funds sitting in the bank,” Ms McMillan told The Interim. “We want to give these young mothers more opportunities to better their lives and provide for their children.”

She added that promotion and public awareness of the scholarship program is a top priority for the foundation over the next fiscal year.

“Our scholarship program allows us to invest in the future of young mothers after they have struggled to re-build their lives and establish a future for their child in the community,” Ms McMillan said last spring. “The reward for all of us, donor, volunteer and staff member alike, is the satisfaction of knowing that we can continue to assist them after they leave the safety net of Rosalie Hall.”

Bagirathy Olaganathan, 20, is one of the first recipients of the Rosalie Hall Foundation scholarship program. She combines a part-time job in customer service with full-time science studies at the University of Toronto. Her son, Vevek 4, was born when she was a 16-year-old Grade 10 student in Scarborough. Ms Olaganathan said support from the foundation has been a key factor as she works to secure a bright future for herself and her son.

“The scholarship money is being forwarded directly to the university for tuition and other costs,” she told The Interim. “It has been very helpful to me because it allows me to use student loans for other living expenses.” Although Ms Olaganathan’s parents are helping her with care of her son, she says it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to work toward an undergraduate degree without the Rosalie Hall Foundation scholarship program.

Another scholarship recipient, Dianne Kerr, is studying psychology and sociology at York University in Toronto. Her son, Kiwuan, is now four years old. “Rosalie Hall and the Rosalie Hall Foundation have looked kindly upon me and guided me in beginning a new life for my son and I implore you to grant me assistance in a field that will enable me to support my son and build a better life for us without government assistance,” she said in seeking the initial scholarship. Dianne’s scholarship enables her to pay for childcare costs as she attends full-time studies at York University.

For more information on the Rosalie Hall Foundation
and its scholarship program, write
3020 Lawrence Avenue East, Scarborough, Ont. M1P 2T7 tel. (416) 425-6998.