Kim Meechan (’80, ’81, ’84) spent her career caring for the vulnerable in society. With three Acadia degrees in psychology (BA, BA Hons and MSc), she headed to Saskatchewan after graduation and worked for three and a half years as a psychologist for the provincial government, counselling children and families. Then she moved to Ottawa, where her work included being a frontline worker with the Children’s Aid Society, an addiction counsellor with the Royal Ottawa Hospital, a youth worker and coordinator with the Youth Services Bureau, the director of the health promotion team in a Community Health and Resource Centre, and the coordinator of a city-wide Housing Loss Prevention Network.
Several years ago, she established a bequest to Acadia in her will. “I have fond memories of Acadia and a loyalty that is very solid,” she says. “The campus and the faculty are what made it unique.”
Now retired and back in Nova Scotia, she has established the Kimberly Meechan Bursary of $1,000 annually for Acadia students in financial need from Moncton, New Brunswick, with preference for those who attended her old school, Harrison Trimble High School.
“I came to Acadia fresh out of high school,” she says. “I had received a bursary for $500 from Harrison Trimble High to assist with university expenses. In 1977, that was a lot of money. I was raised by a single mother who raised three of us with very little, so that $500 meant a lot.”
As she looked at it, her successful career had been possible because of her studies at Acadia. With that in mind, she decided to pay it forward – to help another student from Harrison Trimble High School. “I wanted the recipient to be in financial need, as I was when I was young,” she says. “Any student from Moncton would be good, but with the preference being Harrison Trimble, because I had good memories in high school too.”
In 2018, the bursary was set up. The day Kim found out that a student had received the first bursary amount, she was surprised at how satisfying it felt. “Even more so when that student wrote me a letter and told me how much it meant to her, coming from a family with a single mother. And the student was so grateful,” she says. “But I was over the moon. I was so happy that I could help a student like that.”
Her experience in setting up the bursary was very positive, she adds. “Nancy Handrigan [Executive Director, Philanthropy] was amazing. She was conscientious about matching what I wanted for my bursary. Since then, I’ve been invited to various events, and I appreciate those invitations. My relationship with the University makes me feel valued and appreciated.”
Kim encourages people to think about the ways they can make a difference. “If they donate to different charities here and there, I’d like them to think about what they could do if they made it significant to their alma mater and to a cause that’s dear to them,” she says. “For me, it was a student in financial need based on my own experience as a youth. So I encourage people to mould their contribution to a way that is mutually rewarding. And if that involves a memory or experience with Acadia, it’s a nice way to stay connected.”