A small, but dedicated, group braved the cold on Saturday morning to raise money for homeless and at-risk youth in the community. Organized by Andrea Gaw-Prekob of the Academy of Expressive Dance, the 2km walk in Limerick Forest was part the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) fundraiser which raises money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger across the country. The local walk was raising money for Connect Youth Inc., which supports homeless and at-risk youth ages 16-24 in Leeds and Grenville.
Last year, a much larger group of around 100 North Grenville residents gathered at Equinelle Golf Club to support Connect Youth through the CNOY walk. Due to COVID-19, a large gathering was not possible, but Andrea felt it was still important to participate in the CNOY virtual event this year to support Connect Youth’s efforts in the community, especially since fundraising has been a challenge for them because of the pandemic. “It’s really important that we keep it going, because they need money.”
The small group of eight participants, representing the Academy of Expressive Dance and Kemptville Players, were able to raise over $1,500 for Connect Youth. The walk also represented the official kick-off of the CNOY fundraiser in Leeds and Grenville, as they were the first group out of 48 registered to participate. “There are so many kids that are desperate,” said Kemptville Players member, Lee Gaw. “It’s such a worthwhile cause.”
According the Connect Youth’s Executive Director, Robyn Holmes, all funds raised through CNOY will go towards their youth housing program, which runs five transitional units for youth throughout Leeds and Grenville. The need is definitely there, as Connect Youth has received 77 referrals to their youth housing program since April 1, 2020.
Robyn says it is phenomenal that this small group in North Grenville was able to raise so much money to support them. “It’s amazing that people are not only willing to support Connect Youth, but to get out here on a day as cold as this and to do an event like this. We’re just thrilled.”
The group was happy to get moving on Saturday morning, and even happier to come back to the parking lot to enjoy some hot chocolate and baked goods donated by Kika Smith of Brewed Awakenings.
More information about Connect Youth can be found on their website www.connectyouth.ca, and they can be reached at 613-918-0173.