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Posted by on Apr 2016 in All Stories, Features | 0 comments

2015 scholarship recipient is “paying it forward”

Geoffrey Goodson, selfie at aquariumWhile Geoff Goodson is focused on his own success, he still makes time to help others in need. The recent Osgoode Hall Law School graduate enjoys spending his free time tutoring men experiencing homelessness in English composition. “For the most part, these men are either preparing for jobs or school and have not been taught basic literacy skills,” he explains. “The depth of feeling and wisdom expressed is incredible once they’re familiar with basic grammar and sentence structure.”

Goodson was one of five recipients of the 2015 Kathleen Blinkhorn Aboriginal Student Scholarship, which is dedicated to helping Aboriginal students living in non-profit housing achieve their post-secondary educational goals. To date, the program has awarded 30 students, like Goodson, a total of $30,000.

ONPHA launched the scholarship in 2010, to honour the late Kathleen Blinkhorn, a former Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and ONPHA staff member. Her lifelong passion for housing led to a more than 30-year career in the sector.

Now, armed with a law degree and two legal assistant positions — one at a law firm, and one for the Associate Dean (Students) at Osgoode — Goodson is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty for himself and others. “Tutoring has been a great experience,” says Goodson. “Paying it forward just feels satisfying.”

While he currently resides at a men’s shelter in Toronto, Goodson is inching his way towards housing independence, and learning a lot about ground-level legal work in the process. His next steps will be taking the bar exam and articling with a law firm. “I am extremely humbled and appreciative of the help that the Kathleen Blinkhorn Scholarship has entrusted to me, in a critical period of my life,” he adds.

Spirituality and engagement with the Aboriginal community have also been factors in Goodson’s personal growth. He practices pow wow drumming regularly, takes part in Spirit Circles and elder visits, and recently returned from a Mdawiin Sweat in North Bay.

Like many recent graduates, Goodson feels optimistic about the future, but is prepared to put in a lot of hard work to achieve his goals. “I want to take things slow and steady,” says Goodson. “I am just happy to have legal work and a place to stay. I feel as if I am learning rapidly and pulling myself out of a cycle of poverty.  I could not have done so without the help I received from the Kathleen Blinkhorn award.”

ONPHA is currently accepting applications for this year’s Kathleen Blinkhorn Student Scholarship. Visit our website for more details on how to apply and to share the opportunity with your community. The application deadline is June 24, 2016.

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