Over 100 people gathered at the Equinelle Golf Club on Saturday evening to support North Grenville’s first ever Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) event. CNOY is a family-friendly national walk-a-thon that helps raise funds for charities that serve hungry, homeless, and hurting people in towns across Canada. On Saturday, 136 communities across the country participated in CNOY, stepping out of the comfort of their own homes to provide support and raise awareness for those who don’t have a safe and warm place to lay their head during some of the coldest nights of the year.
North Grenville’s CNOY event was in support of Connect Youth Inc., an agency that serves homeless youth aged 16-25 throughout Leeds and Grenville. “North Grenville is our second highest referral source for our housing program for homeless youth, so we thought it was a great fit to bring it to this community,” Program Manager for Connect Youth, Victoria Robertson, said at the event.
Mayor Nancy Peckford participated in the walk as part of team “Legs Miserables”, representing the Kemptville Players, and was on hand to say a few words before the walk began. She thanked Connect Youth for championing the event, but also all the participants who came out to show their support for the cause. “What we know is that in North Grenville there is housing disparity,” she said. “There are youth at risk when it comes to housing and other challenges, and I know how much this will make a difference.”
The walk began with a short warm up led by Khris Collins from Boss Thai Boxing, and then the walkers were off on the 2km, 5km and 10km walk around the Equinelle subdivision, just as the sun was setting. A hot meal of chili, hot chocolate, tea and coffee, provided by Equinelle, was available for all participants who were sure to have worked up an appetite by the end of their walk. According to the CNOY website, North Grenville raised $14,655 for Connect Youth on Saturday, which will go towards Connect Youth’s continued efforts to support homeless and at-risk youth in the community, including their three apartments in Prescott, Spencerville and Kemptville. “This has blown up way further than I could have ever imagined, and we are super appreciative of it all,” Victoria said.