It was synchronicity, you might say. Jack Cain was heading up the finance committee at Collier St United Church. He was a bit concerned when the church held a meeting to look at becoming a site for the newly established Rainbows program.
“This might cost us some money,” he said, determined to check it out.
He walked into the sparsely attended meeting and listened to Thelma Cockburn’s passionate explanation of what the Rainbows program can do to children of divorcing parents. He listened as she spoke of the self-blame kids attach to a divorce, the helplessness when a kid gets out of the car to troop in to dad’s and the mother says “tell you dad he’s two months late with his cheque.”
He listened to how workbooks had been developed, a growth program designed for little kids, a different one for teenagers, and a kaleidoscope series of sessions for how divorcing parents should handle their kids.
At that point Jack was hooked.
Twenty-one years later–last month– Jack enjoyed lunch and accepted the accolades of the Rainbows office as he ‘retired’ from his well loved volunteer job.
“You have truly left footprints in our hearts and in the hearts of everyone you served during your time at Rainbows!” said Thelma Cockburn, founder of the Barrie and Simcoe regions as well as national Rainbows coordinator. Thelma and Jack worked together to open sites; they took training together; they activated training for others. He became an effective facilitator, then a registered director.
As Rainbows grew, Jack’s role grew with it. Ultimately, to save money, Rainbows began to import materials from the US parent, setting up its own distribution centre in its office at 80 Bradford. For years, all of this happened out of Thelma Cockburn’s home, warehousing of materials happening in the garage.
There was Jack, with a personal commitment that is the true core of any organization.
They didn’t keep figures in those first years, but in 1996 560 Simcoe County children’s lives were helped by the Rainbows program. These kids learned that it was safe to share what was happening to them, how they were feeling, and that they weren’t alone.
As Barrie became the head office for Rainbows all across Canada, Jack became the materials distribution coordinator. He’d remember people from facilitation training; he’d write notes of encouragement as he shipped out bundles of workbooks and support material.
Jack had great compassion for his work, the ability to understand what people are feeling and to be able to feel it with them. He was a loving listener. Resourceful, compassionate, and the ultimate in reliability…that’s how Thelma sums up Jack.
Jack brought great management skills to this volunteer position. A key player in Cooke Cartage and Storage, he spent 25 years in leadership of that organization until it was sold to McCoshan Van Lines. He then moved over to head up Barrie Municipal Non Profit Housing and for 10 years he juggled the needs of residents at 935 townhouse and apartment units, at 14 different sites.
When I spoke with Jack this week, he looked back to what got him started… Thelma and I went to Kind Edward School together and then to Central Collegiate. We knew each other. I had great respect for what she was doing.
Jack decided it was time to move aside at Rainbows to help care for his wife, Marion, who passed away recently from pancreatic cancer.
He looks back at his own family of three children, all of whom are in second marriages. He has a personal understanding of the pain of divorce and its potential impact on the whole family. Four of his grandchildren have benefitted from Rainbows.
“My daughter is a teacher. I facilitated at her school for five kids. It was wonderful to see them come together and talk about their feelings. So often they get shunted off to visit with their father or mother for the weekend and they don’t belong and don’t feel comfortable… it’s a shared experience.
“They learn it’s not their fault and they have to live on.”
There are 43 sites in Barrie now, and in Simcoe County’s 153 sites, nearly 12,000 kids get Rainbows help.
All because a guy walked past a door at a meeting because he was worried about money!