“When a child can go home at the end of a day and know they are okay and that people care, that’s a good day.” June 24th was a very good day.
As nearly one hundred kids sang Happy Birthday in honour of the 75th Anniversary of City Lumber, its leader, Mr. Robert Rosen, with family and friends at his side, saw the culmination of nearly a years’ planning and of a vision to bring kids and the arts together in the city of Edmonton.
Sporting new t-shirts and backpacks, groups of kids scattered throughout Edmonton’s Arts District, to take part in a unique and inspirational day of expression and exploration. Within an hour, one group had a fully choreographed musical number ready to perform in The Citadel’s Shoctor Theatre. Another learned that drumming with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is harder than it looks, and way more fun. In the lobby of the Winspear, kids tried on costumes and made valiant attempts to emulate the incredible voices of the Edmonton Opera. And a new understanding of visual art became clear as awe-struck faces took in the dramatic halls and walls of the Art Gallery of Alberta.
The typical fast pace of Sir Winston Churchill Square, City Hall and the surrounding office towers and shops was replaced, as it is most summer Sundays, with relaxed urban dwellers and suburban visitors who watched kids race from venue to venue with abandon. But how could we explain what this day meant and why we were there? Our benefactor had no need for public acknowledgement, choosing instead to celebrate in the way his parents, born of simple means but with keen social conscience, instilled throughout his life and whose legacy he has successfully carried to its 75th year.
Robert Rosen is a practical, hard-working and motivated man with vision and a knack for seeing the big picture. A world traveller with strong ties to community, government and industry, Mr. Rosen has a special affinity for the arts. When considering how to recognize this significant milestone in his company’s history, he decided to follow his parents’ example, and share his passion with others, specifically, the children and youth of Edmonton’s Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters. In equal measure, Mr. Rosen is concerned about both the financial future of the arts and the opportunity for our most vulnerable citizens to benefit from their influence. Through lean, challenging years, Mr. Rosen drew upon the creativity and balance gleaned from a lifetime of exposure to art, music and theatre and recognizes their ability to build capacity in children. His goal was and continues to be, to support the sustainability of quality arts programming that broadens horizons, and to ensure that it is accessible to those who are most in need of the hope and inspiration it can provide.
Since 1937, City Lumber has provided tools and materials needed to build great things. 75 years later, Zita and Jack Rosen, through their son Robert, continue to do so in the lives of children and youth.