Friday, October 7, 2016

Today's Special: Hope For The Kids in the Cellar

An old friend just gave me a gift unlike any I’ve ever received.

The friend’s name:  Boris Hrybinsky. He died in late August and yesterday, my wife Helena and long-time pal Rick Mayoh attended a memorial service in Toronto.
 WRITERS IN ARMS: I know I'll learn from Adrian   

Boris, Rick and I lived together for two academic years when we were studying journalism at Carleton University. Truth be told, I could make that sentence far more accurate if I went back and inserted quotation marks around academic and studying.

I won’t go into detail about what life was like with Hrybinsky and Mayoh except that it was insanely fun, profoundly educational and I go to sleep at night happy in the knowledge that I reached adulthood before Facebook showed up. (As my brother Eddie says, “If we had the Internet when I was a kid I wouldn’t have gotten outta grade school.”)

And this story’s not about Boris. You can read an account of him here

This story pertains to his only child, Adrian. Although Boris and I worked together at the Elliot Lake Standard newspaper fresh out of school, we hadn’t been in close contact recently so it wasn’t until yesterday that I met 21-year-old Adrian, a third-year history student at the University of Manitoba. (Get this: When Boris and I were in our third year at Carleton, his father, also named Boris, also a writer and poet, was killed in a Christmas Eve car crash.)

Adrian looks like his dad and seems similarly soft-spoken and respectful. I asked if he intended to follow his father and grandfather and pursue a life of writing.

He nodded, adding that his dad had been mentoring him. Adrian would write stories and Boris would look them over and advise.

Without as much as a millisecond’s reflection, I asked if I could pick up where his father left off. Adrian said he would appreciate that.

Remember that big gift I mentioned up there in paragraph number-one?

That was it.

Anybody who knows me knows I’m a pushover when it comes to helping young people out of the starting gates. It’s my default position. 

Three weeks ago, Helena and I were in a drugstore and I asked the clerk, who looked to be my daughter’s age, what her chosen area of study was. She told me “dental technician.” My first response: “You have to meet my pal Slawek. He’s been in that line of work for ages.” 

Somebody once told me I should post a sign on my door: “Free Inside: Hope.”

But Adrian added a grace note--to pick up where his dad left off--that made the whole thing seemed downright mythic.

It’s the kind of idea you’d see promoted in one of those best-selling self-help books about becoming the whole you. Something everybody should do.

A chap I met just a few weeks ago, Alex McKee, is a semi-retired investment banker, and although I’m not even sure I know what an investment banker is, I do know that Alex and I agree that helping young people is in our genes. 

In fact, Alex recently launched a not-for-profit organization called, designed to link young people with veteran, experienced people who might be able to  offer them advice or assistance.

The platform is modeled on a dating service and Alex sums up his aim thusly:  “I want to get all those
ME&ALEX MCKEE: Helping millennials help themselves
millennials out of their parents’ basements.”

Alex and I have talked at length recently about the deep satisfaction we get from giving young people a step up. And I believe that if two people think something, lots of others do, too.

If you want to know more about Alex’s outfit, check his website. And although I didn’t start writing this blog with Alex in mind and I don’t want it to sound like an ad for same, what the heck? 

Alex is 76! He’s starting a brand-new not-for-profit venture! This could help him get into heaven!  (“Are you sure,” my late dad would ask, with a laugh, “your friend Alex is not just cramming for the finals?”)

Never mind that. As far as I can tell, he'a going to do everybody a whole hell of a lot of good.

I’d shill for that. Maybe Adrian can write about it. I'm sure Boris would approve.

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