On June 25th, 2020, executive vice-president and co-founder of Sun Youth Organization, Mr. Sid Stevens, will be turning 80. The soon to be octogenarian was only 14 when he and the late Earl De La Perralle, who himself was 9, decided to start a newspaper, help kids stay off the streets with sports, and eventually feed and help families in need from the Plateau. When asked if the organization’s values had changed since 1954, Stevens replied: “The organization certainly has grown in size and diversified its programs, but nothing has really changed in our basic philosophy. We help people in need. From the beginning, there were always youngsters in our buildings: they came to play sports, get a meal, do homework, give a hand. We are a charity organization, but never forced anyone to think like us, never twisted any arms, never proselytized. We simply pursued our activities and hoped that by close contact, the youth would see and learn, perhaps realize that they too can give some of their time, put a smile on people’s faces, be part of the solution. After 65 years, I know nothing is more convincing than showing a good example.”
Some 65 years later, things have not changed much at Sun Youth. The organization still fosters young people, namely through its sports and recreation programs, which include numerous sports teams, day camps and community gardening activities. Recently, with the pandemic, all sports and recreation programs were suspended. For children, this meant cutting direct contact with their sports colleagues and especially sports coach, a trustworthy presence in their life, someone who they could look up to and who helped build their self-confidence. Rodney Skerritt, Sun Youth basketball program coordinator and coach: “We can’t see our kids, which is pretty sad. But at the same time, so many things need to be done at Sun Youth these days, with the pandemic and all… I wanted to be useful so I decided to give the time I spent coaching at Sun Youth’s food bank. Other coaches went on Sun Youth’s delivery service… we all started giving a helping hand. When I spoke to the kids over the phone, some asked if I wasn’t terribly bored without them! Hahaha! “Sure, buddy, but I’m keeping busy volunteering at Sun Youth, packing food for people who don’t have enough to eat!” I think that made them think. I wasn’t just their coach anymore, I became some sort of hero. Some asked how they could help too. This was like a silent intergenerational transmission of values. And that’s what Sun Youth has always been about.”
In these difficult times, Sun Youth needs continuous support to pursue its activities. The organization invites the population to make online money donations at sunyouthorg.com. This money will be used to purchase food for families and individuals in need, as well as necessities for babies and toddlers; it will also help support a large senior community with food, personal products and non-contact communication. It will keep people safe, fed, and as healthy as possible in these difficult times. Donations can also be made in person at 6700 Park Avenue, using the entrance located in the parking at the back, which is accessible using the passageway on the side of the building, on Park. If you wish to donate clothes, please deposit them in the metal bins located at the same address, directly on Park Avenue, behind the bus stop. For donations of food, hygienic products, baby products and other essentials, please call 514 842-6822, and we will guide you from there.
Sun Youth Organization continues to offer its emergency services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization’s Food Bank, Medication Program, Fire Program and other Emergency Services continue to help disadvantaged Montrealers. Special measures and protocols have been put in place to avoid propagation of the virus throughout this operation. Due to the high number of calls, Sun Youth encourages you to write to firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment with their Emergency Services. If you do not have an email, please call 514-842-1214.
Summer is here at last and deconfinement has started, which is certainly a good reason to rejoice! But the war against the Covid-19 virus is not won yet and Montrealers should not lower their guards! Sun Youth invites the population to remain very careful, by respecting social distancing at all times, wearing masks in public and washing hands as often as possible. These small gestures show you care about your neighbour and make a world of difference. During this crisis, all our efforts combined will make us a stronger community and hopefully, will save lives and livelihoods. Take care.