Huntington University is kicking off the festive season by providing a community gift.
Every year, since 2007, Huntington University has celebrated the lighting of its 45-foot tall Christmas tree – the tallest lit Christmas tree in Northern Ontario – and has used the event as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a local group, while raising awareness of the organization and its work in the community.
This year, it is supporting Réseau ACCESS Network and the local HIV Awareness Week, which wrapped up on World AIDS Day Dec. 1.
“While these are unprecedented times, Huntington University’s commitment to community will continue,” says Dr. Kevin McCormick, president and vice-chancellor of Huntington University, in a press release.
“Our community groups, and those volunteers who give of their time and talent to help others, have been bravely and diligently persisting throughout the past months, working to provide essential programs and services to members of our community who have been most impacted by the pandemic.
“That is why we are pleased to contribute $2,500 to Réseau ACCESS Network in support of their ongoing efforts to support vulnerable populations in our community through the promotion of wellness, harm and risk reduction, and education with respect to HIV/AIDS, Hep C and related health issues.”
“We hope that the lights on our tree will play some small part, during the pandemic, in lifting the spirits of our campus and wider community this festive season,” said Mary-Liz Warwick, chair of the Huntington University Board of Regents.
“We’re also grateful to be able to support Réseau ACCESS Network as part of our annual tree lighting. They play a key role in leading community harm reduction strategies for people who use substances and who may be experiencing homelessness, or who are poorly housed. They are providing a vital service for individuals, and our community as a whole, and we encourage all who are able to, to consider supporting this worthwhile cause.”
“I would very much like to thank Dr. Kevin McCormick and Huntington University for this generous community gift in support of our work at Réseau ACCESS Network,” said Richard Rainville, Executive Director Réseau ACCESS Network.
“COVID-19 is an ongoing concern for the community at large, but especially for those who are marginalized and who are now being denied services because these are no longer available or accessible due to the pandemic.
“Many who are homeless or poorly housed also don’t have space to isolate as being requested, placing them at greater risk of exposure. These additional barriers often place individuals at greater risk of HIV/AIDS.”
“It is my pleasure to be a part of this tree lighting event this year as the new Chancellor, and I applaud Huntington University for its ongoing dedication to civic leadership and for shining a light on Réseau ACCESS Network and HIV Awareness Week,” said Bela Ravi, Chancellor of Huntington University.
“We all have so much to give, and can really make a difference in someone’s life with a simple act of kindness. This holiday season in particular, small gestures, donations, and gifts of time to an organization, or a family member, friend, or neighbour, are especially needed and welcomed.”
To learn more about Réseau ACCESS Network, or to donate, visit reseauaccessnetwork.com.