Jim Blair knew what it was like to see a life of potential not given the opportunity to shine.
It happened to his own mother who although very bright, was never able to attend high school. There was simply no money and she was needed at home.
Jim’s wife Lorna has a similar story. Her father was forced to leave school at the age of 11 to help support his family when his own dad died.
“His life was blighted,” said Lorna. “We’re the children of people whose lives were affected by the Great Depression. We were very much aware of the missed opportunities that can happen in the lives of children.”
Sadly, Jim passed away in September 2019 – but not before leaving behind a legacy of generosity that is impacting the lives of children living on low income in Waterloo Region.
It’s not surprising that Jim and Lorna Blair saw the value in contributing to House of Friendship’s Neighbourhoods programs, through the Jim and Lorna Blair Charitable Foundation. For more than two decades, their support provided opportunities for children to take music lessons or enrol in sports programs and for families to experience some of these activities together.
“We wanted the money to be used for things that wouldn’t happen otherwise,” said Lorna. “We wanted to do something that wasn’t already a budget item.”
Linda Kruger, Community Resource Coordinator at Sunnydale Community Centre, said the flexibility of the program meant that children were given the chance to participate in activities they would have otherwise missed.
“The funding allowed families experiencing low income to ensure that their children had a level playing field when it came to recreational activities,” said Linda.
“When children have hope, it makes a big difference. When they want to do something, and are able to do it, it helps them believe they can do other things as well,” said Lorna Blair.
Lorna and her husband always felt that helping out with what some might consider “small things” like joining a soccer team can make a big difference.
“In families who are living on the edge, these kinds of choices require sacrifices. For families on the lower end of the economic scale, there is no choice.”
“We considered it a privilege to be involved in the work of House of Friendship, where people there are dedicated to making a significant difference in people’s lives.”