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Joshua Quinn Recognized for Community Service

Joshua O’Connor Quinn, a Grade 12 student at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), was recently awarded first runner-up for the inaugural Pat Dunn Student Leadership Award from the Out of the Cold Foundation (OOTC), receiving a $250 bursary.

Joshua O'Connor Quinn, Grade 12 SMCS student
Joshua O’Connor Quinn graduates from SMCS in June 2024.

This year, each OOTC programme across the city had the opportunity to nominate two student volunteers (between Grades 9 and 12) to be recognized. OOTC programme leads from each location chose the nominees, resulting in a total of 20 nominations.

“Josh is one of our high school volunteer students with a heart of gold. Over the past four years, he has joined our Friday-night programme when he can, lending a hand wherever needed with enthusiasm and a contagious smile,” says Jennifer Reynolds, one of the lead programme volunteers at OOTC Eastminster. “Whether in the dining room, kitchen, or clothing room, Josh’s positive attitude shines throughout his shift. Most of all, what sets him apart from the other student volunteers is the gentle and confident way he connects with the guests through conversation to make them feel dignified. With his positive energy, Josh embodies the spirit of service, making a lasting impact on our guests and fellow volunteers.”

The award is named after Pat Dunn ’88, one of the original founders of the OOTC programme, who tragically died in a cycling accident in 1993. In the fall of 1987, while in his final year of high school, Dunn and his friends approached the SMCS Chaplaincy team with the idea of starting a soup kitchen for the homeless. OOTC was founded that year by Sr. Susan Moran, OLM, CM, OSM, who worked as part of the SMCS Chaplaincy team.

“Being recognized by Out of the Cold feels incredibly rewarding and meaningful. The connection to St. Michael’s College School makes this recognition extra special,” says Quinn. “As a student at St. Mike’s, discovering that OOTC originated from my school gave me a sense of pride and reinforced my commitment to representing youth volunteers positively. Knowing that I am contributing to a programme that has roots in my educational community adds more significance to my volunteer work. It’s not just about the recognition; it’s about being part of a legacy of faith, character, and service that started at St. Mike’s.”

Out of the Cold Eastminster is where Joshua Quinn regularly volunteers his time.
Photo courtesy of: East End United Church
Out of the Cold Eastminster is where Joshua Quinn regularly volunteers his time.

Quinn’s contributions to OOTC dates back four years to Grade 9 when he joined the Eastminster Out of the Cold Chapter. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme faced operational restrictions. Quinn served as part of the core team of regular volunteers, working weekly to support their various needs.

“I began volunteering because of the increased need for consistent and dedicated volunteers. My mom, a lead volunteer with the programme, highlighted the necessity of a core team to minimize contact and ensure safety amid COVID-19 restrictions,” says Quinn. “I saw this as an opportunity to help during a critical time, supporting with essential back-of-house tasks like making sanitizing kits, preparing lunch bags, and sorting clothing items. This initial involvement allowed me to contribute significantly to my community during a challenging period. I was eager to step up and make a difference where it was needed most.”

Post-pandemic, Quinn continued his volunteerism every week by greeting guests or assisting with kitchen duties, serving meals and drinks, and helping with cleanup.

The Eastminster OOTC programme runs weekly from the start of November to the end of March, offering a three-course meal, clothing, and overnight accommodations to 120-150 guests each Friday.

“Each Friday at OOTC, my work fills me with a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose. Helping with tasks like serving meals or working in the kitchen allows me to connect directly with the guests, fostering a sense of empathy and community,” adds Quinn. “This experience makes me feel more grateful for what I have and more compassionate towards others facing difficult circumstances. The act of serving instills in me a strong sense of responsibility and the importance of contributing to the well-being of others. It’s a humbling experience that reinforces the value of small gestures and their significant impact, inspiring me to continue serving and supporting those in need.”

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