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Paul Ong’s virtual concert series

raises thousands of dollars for charities

     Paul Ong
Paul Ong, the new acting vice principal at
École Garden Grove School

by Lucille Nolasco

One would think that the ongoing pandemic would slow everything and everyone down. Not necessarily so for Winnipegger Paul Ong.

The singer and educator pursued his annual fundraising concert through an online series of concerts beginning in November 2020 and he was able to raise thousands of dollars for a couple of charities.

Pilipino Express recently interviewed with Paul regarding the challenges of launching an online concert series for a cause, as well as his new role as vice principal.

paul ong poster

PE: How was the experience of staging your most recent fundraising concert, considering the pandemic? How did you overcome the challenges?

Paul: The biggest challenge this year was not being able to host a Concert for a Cause live like we used to. For this reason, we have done it through an Online Music Series for a Cause, where we release a music video every 20 days or so – free for everyone to watch – and seek people’s support to donate directly to our charity of choice – CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and Hands of Hope – as they would like to. We piloted November 2020, and ended our six part series this March 2021.

However, even with doing an online music series, it was challenging to brave the cold temperatures when we were filming outdoors, since this is the only place we can do it, given the restrictions for indoor locations. Time and having to make online content on a regular basis was another challenge. But, there are no challenges that cannot be overcome with the right attitude and commitment. I think that these challenges just helped our desire to make an impact through my Annual Concert for a Cause, even stronger.

Knowing the purpose and the intent behind what we do is essential in order for us to pull through. It is with having a sense of purpose that we are able to keep adapting to change, and be resilient, in order to thrive and rise above any challenge that we might face. Support from family, friends and the community has been essential in making our Concert for a Cause 2020-21 very successful.

PE: Can you share some realizations from your experience?

Paul: The biggest realization for me is that spreading kindness does not stop just because there is a pandemic. More than ever, I think during these times of challenge and despair that we need to do acts of kindness and spread positivity. I think that music and charity is a perfect recipe for providing opportunities that spark joy and inspiration in everyone. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to use my gift and my show as a platform to do this. I am thankful to everyone and our community for the support that has allowed me to do so for several years now. COVID-19 is contagious but so is kindness. Let us keep being kind and pay it forward.

PE: Tell us about the concert beneficiaries this year. Any particular reason they were chosen?

Paul: The primary beneficiary this year is the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and our secondary beneficiary is Hands of Hope. When I conceptualized the show for 2020, it was entitled Journeys and I was hoping to encapsulate the journeys of cancer patients and survivors, and their families and friends. Cancer has touched many lives and families, and our family is not exempt from this. In 2019, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and she was able to get through that phase on her life with immense support from the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Another journey that I wanted to highlight was one of being an immigrant – as most Canadians are immigrants – and Hands of Hope came to mind. As they are doing significant work in helping newcomers and kababayans by giving out free furniture, appliances and things that are useful at home.

I am glad and proud to say that regardless of the challenges, we were still able to continue our Annual Concert for a Cause tradition. From our Online Concert for a Cause 2020-21, we have together raised $10,000+ in charitable donations to our beneficiaries. Thank you to everyone who has been instrumental in making this possible.

PE: Now let’s talk about your new position as vice principal for École Garden Grove School. Congratulations!

Paul: Yes, I am very happy to share that I have been appointed as acting vice principal at École Garden Grove School. It was bittersweet to leave General Wolfe School, which I have considered my “work home,” but change is something we need to take in order to grow. It was through the encouragement of my principal at General Wolfe School – who I consider as a mentor – that I had applied to be a school administrator myself. I am very happy that I listened and took the advice, and feel very thankful to have someone encourage and give me the push to take a step a forward.

As a new vice principal, I am taking the opportunity to get to know the students, the families and the staff in my new school and community. I am very excited to be part of the Garden Grove school and community and look forward to working in partnership with the community to ensure that we are able to provide the best learning experience for all our young learners.

PE: What do you hope to achieve for Garden Grove or for the whole education system in Winnipeg, in the long run?

Paul: As an educator, it is my firm belief that every child deserves quality education that will allow them to flourish and be well-rounded individuals. It is our responsibility to provide that, and the supports needed to achieve it. I truly believe that every child comes with their unique set of strengths, and is capable to learn and excel, and we need to focus on these strengths and use these to help them overcome challenges. It is important to me that everyone in the school feels a sense of community because this will allow us opportunities to work collaboratively and achieve academic excellence in a positive, fun, and nurturing environment. Students must always be the centre of all school-related decisions and we need to ensure that each child feels that they are seen, heard and recognized for who they are.

PE: The most rewarding thing for you, as an educator?

Paul: Knowing that we have made a positive impact and have been an instrument in changing someone’s life for the better is the most rewarding thing as an educator. I think that we should not only aim to teach minds. More importantly, we should aim to touch hearts and transform lives. We need to ensure that we make a positive impact in the lives of children; enough to make them resilient and empowered individuals who are able to reach their maximum potential to thrive in this ever-changing world.

PE: Thank you for your time, Paul. Is there anything else you would like to impart to our readers?

Paul: I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who has been part of my journeys as a performer, educator, and an individual. The six-part Music Series for a Cause is available for everyone to enjoy and can be accessed through our Facebook page, Paul Ong Productions, or Youtube channel, Paul Kelvin Ong. Please subscribe and follow us for our upcoming music videos. The Music Series for a Cause may have come to an end, but we will continue to have online content for everyone in the coming months. We hope to see you all in our next Concert for a Cause when live shows are permitted. Thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts for making our Online Concert for a Cause 2020-21 successful!

I would also like to inform everyone that Garden Grove School is currently accepting registrations for the next school year for Nursery to Grade 6 and we would like to be a part of your child’s learning journey. We are located at 2340 Burrows Avenue, and you can phone us at 204-633-6477 for any inquiries.