Carmel’s Beginnings and the Kindness of Benefactors
An excerpt from Mr OB Tofler’s ‘Forty Years On, a History of G Korsunski Carmel School’ puts into context how the kindness of good people propelled the realisation of the educational dream that was to become Carmel School. In his book, Mr Tofler refers to Mr Sol Levitt’s account of early fundraising efforts in 1958, the year before the School’s official opening, and his impressions of the remarkable man that was Godel Korsunski, the School’s prime benefactor.
“The [funding] committee devised a scheme whereby members of the community would be invited to become financial members of the ‘School Project’. The largest figure was 10 pounds per member for the first year of the School programme. It was considered that if 100 members would accept this invitation, we would have one thousand pounds to start the school year.
The total budget was assessed to be thirteen hundred pounds, and the balance of the money was to be raised by a variety of social functions. It was a simple formula, but inviting people to participate really meant face to face meetings with individuals and pleading with them for their financial support.
The community list of members was reviewed, and the School committee set about meeting and talking with individuals in order to attract funds. It was considered that some senior members of the community required more than just a telephone call or a visit from a single committee man, and Godel Korsunski, who was a known benefactor, seemed deserving of a special visit. There were no volunteers for the job of interviewing Godel, so Ossie Tofler and I were conscripted to pay Godel a visit. We telephoned for an appointment and we were given an interview. We visited Godel at his Lake St. office, which looked more like a workshop than an office. Ossie and I sat down somewhat uncomfortably and Godel immediately broke the ice by removing his bent pipe from his mouth and saying, ‘Well boys, what is it you want?’
I remember presenting him with a brief description of our philosophy about a Jewish day school, and the merits of such a project. Godel listened quietly. We then got around to the financial structure required. The discussion continued with the plan to recruit people to membership of the School with a ten pound donation. Godel became somewhat impatient at this stage, and cut in saying ‘I will give you fifty pounds for the first year and if you are still in business for the second year, I will give you another twenty-five pounds.’ He had already made his assessment that the venture was worthwhile, and by giving us more than we were asking, he displayed his eagerness to support the venture. He showed that he was a man not to beat about the bush, and that he should become a supporter of the School. Carmel School gained a great benefactor on that day.
Years later, Godel was to make one of his great statements when he visited the School. ‘I have no children of my own, but when I come to the School I have 100 children.’”
Fundraising efforts today remain as essential to the Carmel School fabric as they were back in 1958. On Thursday 19 September in the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah we will, like those who have come before, be fundraising for our School, this time to build a High School canteen and to revamp the Primary School basketball court. Both projects – fostering the essential concepts of healthy eating and exercise – sit at the heart of our sense of unity and community here at Carmel. Learn more about this important project and please get involved to help us realise our aims!
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