WILLIAM MCGINN, BGC Kawarthas

KAWARTHA LAKES: On the evening of Friday, June 10th, the Boys and Girls Club (BGC) Kawarthas Foundation held its 3rd Annual Kawartha Lakes Youth Awards, and three guest speakers came from far away to be able to share the experiences, at BGC, which changed their lives.

The annual Kawartha Lakes Youth Awards were created by the Foundation to shine a spotlight on youth in our community between the ages of 12 and 24.

One of the guests was the 2021 National Youth of the Year winner Valentina Shamoun, from BGC East Scarborough. She showed a passion for giving back, from advocating for autism, peer tutoring, funding her own non-profit project, ‘The Butterfly Effect,’ to fundraising through embroidery art for deprived communities in the Middle East. She is currently enrolled at the University of Toronto.

“I honestly don’t think I would be half the leader I am today if it weren’t for my time at the club,” Ms. Shamoun said at the awards. “In addition to the leadership skills I’ve gained, and positive contributions I’ve been able to give to my local community, my three years as a staff [member] inspired me to consider a future career as a pediatrician, due to my love for the medical field and my newfound love for children and youth.”

The program also featured Pat McNaney and Perry Fretz, longtime friends. Born in the late 50s, Pat and Perry both came from rough backgrounds in Lindsay and met during their childhood over a fistfight. McNaney said, subsidized housing put particular kids in sectors, and the turf for the two of them was Northlin Park.

In 1968, Ron Kennedy, BGC Kawarthas’ founder, showed them compassion. Ron was inspired by their stories and those of other local struggling kids, and established programs in 1970, under the banner of Kawartha Youth Incorporated (KYI). KYI later became BGC Kawarthas. Mr. McNaney and Mr. Fretz returned to the Club for the awards; back for the first time in decades.

“Ron shaped my life so much,” said Pat McNaney. “He never wanted to draw attention to himself, and helped people out discreetly, doing [it] for the right reason. He gave me good values I learned to live by; because I think we need a lot more of them. We’re becoming so technologically advanced, but I think, [also,] becoming a little more amoralistic and caring less about things [which] are really important to have in life.”

“Being able to come back was like a homecoming,” said Mr. Fretz. “We grew up on the streets around here. There were many youth getting into trouble just because there really was nothing else for them to do. For us, it was a place to go and be safe and to have fun. Fear can play a big part in people’s lives and can be continuous throughout generations. That’s how it was with me and my family. I have lost a couple of family members from issues, and I believe without the loving, caring people, and the opportunities Ron and his family presented, I wouldn’t be here today.”

This is the list of the awards and winners. The two age categories for the awards were 12-17 and 18-24.

Arts Achievement Award (Sponsored by Flato, Supported by Kawartha Lakes Arts Council)

12-17: Tie – Carolyn Eve Koty and Julia Cossarin

18-24: Jack Burrill

Entrepreneurship Award (Sponsored by KLCFDC & City of Kawartha Lakes)

12-17: Miranda Jensen

Green Award (sponsored by Fleming College)

12-17: Jessica Kallow

Physical Literacy Award (Sponsored by Kawartha Care Wellness)

12-17: Reagan Lusted

Resiliency Award (Sponsored by Pinnguaq)

12-17: Hanna Schevers

18-24: Marc Marchand

Humanitarian Award (sponsored by Wood-Mizer)

12-17: Siobhan Cadigan

Leadership Award (sponsored by Greg Evans Professional Corporation)

12-17: Madeline Rauch

18-24: Hillary Baker

BGC Club Spirit Award (Sponsored by Cable Cable)

12-17: Avery Tzountzouris

18-24: Marc Marchand

Ron Kennedy Scholarship (Supported by the Kennedy Family): Hannah Schevers

Marcie Beall Scholarship (Scholarship from the Beall/Lough Families) Marc Marchand