2020 is over. The hardest year of many of our lives is in the books.
A few words commonly used to describe it? Scary. Lonely. Overwhelming. Boring. Awful. Difficult. They all apply to so many people in so many different ways.
But we did it. And we did it together.
In normal times, we would've had our Annual General Meeting and year in review at Palasad on or around December 31. It would have been a chance to get together for a Dadcathlon event, followed by a year in review summary, the awarding of the London dad hall of fame award for 2020, and a chance to look forward to some plans for 2021. Instead, we haven't had an official Dad Club London meeting since March 2020. Given the current COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers, combined with Ontario being dead last in vaccines for Canada, who knows when we can look at getting back to official in person meet ups. Hopefully soon. Because we miss you all.
In normal times, we usually average 109 events per year since we incorporated into a not-for-profit. This year, we completed 23 events before the risk of the pandemic became too high and we had to cancel everything and put programming on hold for ethical, moral, liability, and safety reasons. We kiboshed our golf tournament, our Forest City Road Races team, our Sweat For Strong Kids team, our dads and kids fitness bootcamp, our basketball league, our monthly dadcathlon, and a bunch of other fun things we had planned.
Since then, we have tried to stay engaged and connected with utmost creativity. There's probably over 25 dad related group chats for a variety of interests. Hockey, basketball, fitness, gaming, volunteering, the works really. We've done video chats. We played porch ninjas. We met informally for distanced walks and playground dates back in the summer when it was safe to do so. But it just doesn't feel the same. We keep pressing on though, for our kids sake.
Our Facebook group is as lit as its ever been, and we are trying to promote as much engagement, conversation, joking around, problem solving, and checking in as possible. If you are missing human connection, please reach out via email, Facebook, instagram, or twitter and we will see what we can do to get you connected to others.
From a support perspective, we have done what we can and pleasantly surprised ourselves and a lot of others with our ability to look out for and take care of each other and our community. Back in wave one, we did a survey to see where people were at. With about 40% of our members responding, we confirmed that 40% of them either had lost their jobs entirely or had received a wage or hours cut due to the pandemic. Given the load many dads carry in terms of providing for their families, this was scary stuff. We immediately went into survival mode and began collecting and distributing money and food and clothes and other essentials to help our members and their families stay clothed, housed, and fed.
Every year, Dad Club London gives a scholarship of at least $500 to either a member or someone connected to them in support of their academic dreams in memory of our friend and fallen member Bob Jez.
Given the extremely relevant and topical nature of the Black Lives Matter movement and the global need to confront, denounce, and tamper racism head on; a perfect opportunity arose for our organization and community to rally together and give a terrific scholarship gift to a member's wife. You can learn more about it by reaching this article and watching this video:
This year, we were also able to do a few more awesome things. We sent two kids from the London Police Service "Joe League" basketball league for kids from low income housing to summer basketball camp.
We partnered with London Brewing Co-Op to design and sell two different custom beers, with the bulk of the proceeds going to local charities.
We delivered a moving truck load of water to My Sisters Place when they got low on supply in the summer.
We donated to Black Lives Matter, Centre of Hope, Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario, and a number of other important local causes.
We gave our unspent league fees from our basketball league to YMCA Southwestern Ontario to help alleviate the massive drop in revenue that came with the pandemic.
We raised and donated $1,200 to Parkwood Hospital Amputee Support program in honour of our member Gerry LaHay. He was a strong advocate and volunteer for the program as a double amputee, and passed away in October.
We once again came together for Christmas and raised and donated $4,230 to local parents who were deserving of some extra support for Christmas. Part of this includes buying $400 worth of hot dinners from a restaurant owned by a DCL member and delivering them to the homeless tent encampment on Maitland as a way to help alleviate some of the pressure of lockdown.
In total, we raised and donated $16,215.03 this year. This number does not include all of the times that someone posted on our Facebook group things like "hey does anyone have any spare diapers or formula? I'm broke until payday at the end of the week and we are running low" and someone helped them out directly before we could get involved.
Our impact as donors, volunteers, and dads is truly immeasurable. What started as four dads watching playoff hockey and spitballing ideas on how to make stronger community connections for themselves and their kids has turned into something powerful and beautiful. Every single member and every single community supporter serves as the reason for this being a reality. We could've have done it without you, and we sincerely thank you for everything you did in 2020, including simply surviving this pandemic and making life work for yourself and your family.
If we can be of any assistance, please reach out any time and we will be happy to see what we can do. We are all in this together.
With best wishes on a better, happy, and safe 2021,
President, Dad Club London
on behalf of its Board of Directors