Thinking today about New Year’s Eve 2012. It was one of the happiest New Year’s gifts ever for me — having Callum and Tristan healthy and spending time with my family. So much has changed, but not my love for my two boys. 2014 has been a year of challenges, trying to make my way through my new life without Callum. But I also have to thank everyone who has helped to make Callum’s Classrooms a reality. We have built 3 classrooms in Kenya! It wasn’t even an idea at this time last year. In 2015, I look forward to travelling to Kenya with Tristan to see the classrooms in person. I know that Callum will be with us every step of the way. Thanks to everyone who has supported us in this journey. Asante.
There is a fundraiser this weekend for Callum’s Classroom. It is being organized by my friend Paula Pound MacIntyre. Paula is a very special person to my family. She has done my hair since I moved to P.E.I. twenty years ago. So we have a lot of history.
Paula also started doing Callum and Tristan’s hair. And she was the one who cut Callum’s hair for us when his hair started falling out because of the chemo. I stood behind a shelf where he couldn’t see me and silently cried my eyes out. Paula knew, but just kept on going. She later said it was one of the hardest things she ever did.
She also came to my house after Callum died and did my hair before the Celebration of his life at Glen Stewart School. I was beyond caring about how I looked. But she made sure that I held it together, or at least my hair did.
When Paula offered to put on a Charity Cut-a-Thon, I was happy to accept. Callum loved it when his hair grew back after chemo. So there is a beautiful symbolism that Paula and the other stylists will be making everyone’s hair look great, as they raise money to build a kindergarten classroom in Callum’s honour.
Thank you Paula, Heath, Lindsay and every one else at Blue Note.
But especially Paula. You will always hold a special place in our family’s story.
Asante, Nancy, Callum and Tristan
Here is a post from the Callum’s Classroom blog about today’s amazing Sunflower Sale. We are now halfway towards building a second classroom…with more good news to come this weekend!
Sunflower Sale for Callum’s Kenya Classroom
Everyone is invited to Wood’s Farms in Tea Hill on Saturday September 6th between 9 :00 a.m. and 5 :00 p.m. for a giant Sunflower Sale. You can pick your own or purchase a bouquet…5 blooms for $5. Proceeds will go towards building a classroom at a school in Kenya through Farmers Helping Farmers. There will also be a barbecue and bake sale in support of Tristan’s trip to Kenya to see Callum’s Classroom.
Sunflowers will also be available at Now n Zen in Stratford and at Wood’s Farms while supplies last.
Please spread the word! Asante.
I realized that I haven’t been keeping people on this blog up to date with our project. In case you haven’t heard, we are building a classroom in Callum’s honour through a P.E.I. group called Farmers Helping Farmers. The fundraising started in April 2014 and will continue for a year. A classroom costs about $6,000 to build. If we surpass that goal, we will build a second classroom!
While we are still raising money and will be for the next 8 months, construction has started. We received a photo today from Kenya. This will be Callum’s Classroom!
To read more about the project, you can visit another blog that I am writing: calllumsclassroom.wordpress.com
In other exciting news, Tristan and I will be travelling to Kenya as part of a trip in July 2015 through Farmers Helping Farmers. It’s being led by two P.E.I. teachers who are bringing a group of 12-14 teens from the Island to eastern Kenya. As part of the trip, we will be visiting Callum’s Classroom.
This will take a lot of fundraising – both for the project and for the trip. But it feels good to be doing something meaningful in Callum’s honour. As you will read on the Callum’s Classroom blog, he had a connection with Farmers Helping Farmers and with fundraising for Kenya. We even found a couple of letters that he was sent from students in Kenya.
Healing takes time. The grief and pain will never go away. But I am trying through this project to focus my energy on something positive. I think that’s what Callum would want me to be doing.
Asante — thank you –for being part of our journey. Callum will now be celebrated and remembered by generations of kids in Kenya as well as by those who knew him and loved him.
This is my first time visiting the sunflower field after two weeks away. The weeds have certainly grown! Now you know what I will be doing next week….
Some of the sunflowers are quite large and have blooms. Others are following close..or not…behind.
But it’s time to commit. So we’re going to aim for our Big Sunflower Sale on Saturday September 6th…with a rain date of Sunday September 7th.
And that’s the tough part of doing an event …out doors….relying on things to grow. I’m hoping they’ll be ready :)
Here is the news release that will soon be going out to local PEI media. I hope my team of volunteers on PEI is getting revved up for Saturday September 6th. Please, please, spread the word. We want this to be a big event…for a great cause.
Sunflowers for a Kenya Classroom
Pick or purchase a bouquet of sunflowers on Saturday September 6th and you will be helping to build a classroom in Kenya.
The event is taking place at Wood’s Farms in Tea Hill. The Sunflower Sale is part of a year-long fundraising campaign for Callum’s Classroom.
Callum’s Classroom is a new charity founded in honour of a Stratford teen who passed away from cancer last year. Callum Russell MacLean was an ordinary kid who showed great strength and courage in his battle with cancer. He passed away on April 9, 2013, at the age of 15.
Now his mother and brother have teamed up with the P.E.I.-based organization, Farmers Helping Farmers, to build a classroom at Kamuketha Primary School in eastern Kenya.
“Growing up, Callum was connected to kids in Kenya through fundraising at his Sunday School for mosquito nets to prevent malaria,” explains his mom, Nancy Russell. “When he attended Stonepark Intermediate, his school was twinned with a Kenyan school and he wrote letters back and forth with some students in Africa.”
“Callum had a kind heart and was always looking for ways to help others,” Russell continues. “I know that Callum would be honoured to have us build a classroom in his name so that generations of kids in Kenya can learn and have a chance at the kind of life that our kids in Canada sometimes take for granted.”
“Callum had wonderful teachers and schools in his lifetime journey. So this is a way to give back,” she adds.
The idea for the sunflower “field of dreams” came from Della Turner Wood, of Wood’s Farms. Last year, she grew a field of dahlias which were picked and sold with the money going to the Canadian Cancer Society. When she saw a field of sunflowers, she thought of Callum. Sunflowers were a special flower for his family because they bloom around his birthday. Friends and family plant seeds in his honour every year. Wood approached Callum’s mother with the idea and the Sunflower Sale was born.
“Growing a field of sunflowers is harder than it looks,” admits Callum’s mom, Nancy Russell. “Thanks to Veseys who donated the seeds we had lots to plant and a real seeder. But getting them to grow was another thing.”
The dry weather made for an anxious summer, with Russell constantly visiting the field to see if the sunflowers were growing.
“They are beautiful flowers,” observes Russell. “I love the way they move over the course of the day to keep their faces towards the sun.”
“They remind me of Callum,” she adds. “I think he’d be happy to have lots of people enjoying the sunflowers and helping to build a classroom in Kenya.”
Nancy and Callum’s brother, Tristan, will travel to Kenya with Farmers Helping Farmers in July 2015, marking the group’s 35th anniversary. The group, primarily made up of P.E.I. teens, will visit Callum’s Classroom at Kamuketha School.
“It will be emotional, for sure, seeing what we have helped to build in Callum’s name,” says Nancy Russell. “But we will get to share that moment with all of the people who have supported us on the journey towards building Callum’s Classroom.”
The one-day Sunflower Sale takes place Saturday September 6th from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m at Wood’s Farms at 180 Georgetown Road. After that, you can drive out to Wood’s Farms during regular business hours and pick your own. (closed on Sundays) The sunflowers will also be available for sale at Now n Zen Coffee Shop on Glen Stewart Drive in Stratford, until they run out. They are $5 for 5 blooms.
To read more about Callum’s Classroom, please visit http://callumsclassroom.wordpress.com/
Words cannot describe how broken my heart feels today. These milestone days are so hard. On one hand, I am heartened that so many people are thinking about him and sending him love today, on his birthday. But it is also another day that he is not here with us. And never will be, except in our memories.
Tristan and I are fortunate to be here on the Ottawa River with family. This is where Callum celebrated most of his birthdays and will always be a special place.
Please send him love and talk about him and remember him.
Callum – I love you as much today as I did the day you were born, and I always will.
PS – We bought another hammock on this visit because the other one broke. But I wanted one to be here, to remember this day and his smile.