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EVENTS & MEDIA

 

 

YMCA announces new leadership team for The Centre in Petrolia

Oil Heritage District Community Centre to become YMCA in April with new and existing staff leadership

PETROLIA, ON - MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2018 - The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario have announced the appointment of leadership staff for the new Petrolia YMCA, when it assumes contracted operations of The Oil Heritage District Community Centre (The Centre), in April 2018.

Tracey Taylor, who is currently the General Manager of the Jerry McCaw Family Centre in Sarnia, has been appointed to the position of General Manager. Tracey is a long-time, respected YMCA leader with 30 years of progressively senior experience in the YMCA movement, including Adult Fitness, Youth Education and Development, and Membership Centre management. As a lifelong resident of Petrolia, Tracey will serve her home town and bring the YMCA experience to friends, neighbours, and fellow residents. She will be responsible for leading the delivery of high quality programs and services, supporting and developing the existing staff team, and ensuring the YMCA’s unique model of community engagement is successfully implemented in Petrolia.

Consistent with the YMCA’s promise to provide existing Centre staff with the first opportunity to apply for employment, current Centre staff, Aylien Wattel and Leah Van Barneveld, have accepted the roles of Wellness and Group Fitness Coordinator, and Aquatic Coordinator, respectively. A member of the Centre staff team since 2015, Aylien currently serves as the Centre's Wellness Coordinator. Leah recently returned to the Centre in the role of Aquatic Coordinator after previously serving the Centre as an Aquatic Deck Supervisor, and has experience in aquatic program delivery and leadership from past employment at Tecumseh Pool- Sarnia, Western University, and Pathways Health Centre - Sarnia. 

The YMCA, through an internal Job Fair exclusively for existing Centre staff, received applications for employment from 45 of 58 existing Centre staff and contractors.  The leadership team of Tracey, Aylien, and Leah will be involved in the selection of the remaining staff team.  The YMCA anticipates completing the hiring of staff required for the new Petrolia YMCA from within the existing Centre staff team with a few exceptions where internal candidates could not be secured.

Petrolia Leadership

PHOTO CAPTION (L-R): Leah Van Barneveld- YMCA Aquatic Coordinator, Tracey Taylor-YMCA General Manager, and Aylien Wattel - YMCA Wellness and Group Fitness Coordinator.

Krista Gillespie, VP Health, Fitness, and Aquatics
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
C: 519-330-3745
krista.gillespie@swo.ymca.ca

 


YMCA proposal to operate The Centre in Petrolia approved by Council 

Following an extensive public consultation process, the YMCA is expected to assume operations of the health and fitness facility in April. 

PETROLIA, ON - MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 2018 - After an extensive community consultation process, including 10 individual stakeholder sessions, the YMCA announced today that the Town of Petrolia has approved the YMCA’s proposal to assume contracted operation of the Oil Heritage District Community Centre (“The Centre”). The YMCA’s Board of Directors will consider ratification of the agreement at their meeting on January 23, 2018 and with approval, the new agreement will be effective April 2, 2018. 

The YMCA’s interest in operating The Centre is aligned with their mission to build healthy communities and consistent with the Town’s strategic priority to grow a Community of Health in Petrolia. 

The arrangement is similar to those in place for other municipal services including management of the waste water treatment plant, and artistic direction for the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. The agreement ensures that: 

● The Town of Petrolia retains ownership of The Centre, all donor recognition/named features, equipment and assets; 

● The YMCA will engage current Centre staff team with a first opportunity for application for employment; 

● The YMCA will deliver greater operational efficiency to The Centre and reduce the Town’s annual investment, including an estimated total savings of $517,538 over a five year period; 

● The YMCA will offer an all-inclusive membership experience and ensure that non-member and public access is maintained. 

● The YMCA will implement its Assisted Membership program, providing subsidized access to membership and programs for individuals and families in financial need. 

Petrolia residents and participants across the region will have access to The Centre through membership and day use passes. The YMCA’s all-inclusive membership model offers all programs and services included in one standard price, including their popular swimming lessons, individual wellness coaching, and group fitness classes. 

“Every effort was made in the proposed operating model to reflect the needs of the community and minimize change or disruption”, confirmed Kathi Lomas McGee, Interim President and CEO of YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario. 

“Our YMCA has appreciated the opportunity to design an operating model that reflects the unique needs of Petrolia, is in keeping with our existing models throughout the region, and is reflective of feedback received during community consultations,” said McGee. 

“We are excited about this opportunity to bring increased health, fitness and recreation to the lives of even more individuals and families in Petrolia.” 

Under the agreement, Boomers Plus will remain at The Centre, and the Lambton Central Petrolia Optimist Club’s agreement regarding meeting space will continue. 

Further, the YMCA will report to the Town monthly regarding financials, offer a quarterly operational report and an annual operating review, and submit a proposed annual operating budget and capital budget. 

The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario has 100 years of experience in community health, fitness, recreation and membership services, and currently serves more than 21,000 participants at 49 locations in the region, including 1 in 5 participants who access the YMCA’s financial assistance program. 

More information on the project, including the opportunity to sign up for membership updates, is available at: activepetrolia.ca. 

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact: 

Kathi Lomas McGee 

Interim President and CEO 519-955-3432 

klomasmcgee@ymcaswo.ca 



February 02, 2018 

Ministry of Education Approves $1.8 million to Increase 

Child Care Spaces in LKDSB Schools 

The Ministry of Education has approved a $1.8 million investment in the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB) to increase licensed child care spaces in Chatham and Wheatley. 

The provincial government is providing the LKDSB with $1.6 million to provide 49 child care spaces at Indian Creek Road Public School through its Early Years Capital Program Funding. The Ministry is also funding $264,000 for 10 child care spaces at Wheatley Area Public School. 

“This funding will support families by providing additional child care spaces in Chatham and Wheatley,” said Elizabeth Hudie, LKDSB Chair. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with our community partners to support young families and promote community hubs within our schools.” 

"We're thrilled about this funding for an improved child care facility,” said Kathi Lomas McGee, YMCA President & CEO. “It will allow the YMCA to expand our Before-and-After Child Care services at Indian Creek Road Public School to include quality infant, toddler and pre-school care, making it more convenient for families in this community. We’re grateful for the ongoing support and partnership of the LKDSB for our YMCA Child Care programs.” 

“This is great news for families in Wheatley and the surrounding area. Local families will benefit from the new licensed infant spaces that are more convenient and closer to home,” said Kelly Emery, Municipality of Chatham-Kent Director of Child Care and Early Years Division. “This investment from the Ministry of Education gives young children a strong start in life and supports families with access to safe, high-quality licensed child care.” 

LKDSB Senior Administration will be working with the Ministry to develop a plan for the construction and renovations at the two school sites. The LKDSB will also be meeting with child care providers to discuss future plans for the sites. 

For additional information contact: 

Elizabeth Hudie, Chair of the Board, 519-542-0939 

Jim Costello, Director of Education, 519-336-1500, Ext 31297 Kathi Lomas-McGee, Interim President & Chief Executive Officer, 519-336-9622, Ext. 224 

Kelly Emery, Director of Child Care and Early Years Division, Municipality of Chatham-Kent, 519-351- 1228, Ext. 2130 

For reference information contact: 

Heather Hughes, Public Relations Officer, 519-336-1500, Ext. 31262 

 


JANUARY 24, 2018

Stronger Together

Our Goal:  Together, we will create lasting impact in all our communities for generations to come!

SARNIA, ON – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 2018 - Based on our strong history of collaboration, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario and the YMCA of Western Ontario have agreed in principle to work toward a unified, single, regional YMCA.  A comprehensive review of both organizations’ strengths, challenges and opportunities has been conducted. 

Together we would serve the full region from Windsor in the West, North to Goderich, South to Point Pelee National Park, East to Woodstock.

Board Chair of the YMCA of Western Ontario, Marjie Macoun, explained, “we have a long-standing positive working relationship that includes our collaborative partnership to successfully create Camp Henry at Point Pelee National Park.  We are really excited about this possibility of becoming one organization!”

The Boards, CEOs and staff leadership recognized their strong alignment in mission, vision, values and programming and see this as an opportunity to better serve our communities. 

For Shawn Zettel, Chair of the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario, maintaining local connections remains a priority.  As he stated, “the unification plan will allow the YMCAs to access the benefits of a regional organization while also maintaining strong local leadership and community-level connections, so that local YMCAs ‘look and feel’ like the community they serve”.  The spirit of YMCAs staying connected to local communities will remain a priority.

The work over the coming months will focus on developing the business and transition plan. Final decision regarding whether or not to become one organization will likely occur by the summer of 2018. 

These YMCAs are not alone in their pursuit of unification.  As Andrew Lockie, CEO, YMCA of Western Ontario shared, “Across North America, YMCAs have been joining forces to achieve greater impact on the communities they serve. The decision is consistent and aligned with the YMCA Canada Strategy and vision to strengthen the overall capacity and capabilities of YMCAs across Canada. The aim is to grow and create impact in a rapidly changing community environment and philanthropic landscape.  This work of strengthening regional areas by creating larger regional organizations is occurring across other sectors as well.”

Kathi Lomas-McGee, Interim CEO, YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario explained the importance of planning for today and years to come, “we remain committed to serving our members and communities in the best possible way as we plan for the future.  We believe together, we will create lasting impact in all our communities for generations to come!”

If you have any questions please contact:

Andrew Lockie, YMCA CEO-YMCA of Western Ontario, 519-907-5500 x1120, alockie@ymcawo.ca

or

Kathi Lomas-McGee, YMCA Interim President & CEO, YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario,
519-x955-3432, kathi.lomasmcgee@swo.ymca.ca

 

November 23, 2017

YMCA honours local peacekeeper with peace medallion

 Sarnia, ON – Build community.  Act for peace.  That’s the message the YMCA is sending this week as YMCAs across Canada celebrate YMCA World Peace Week, providing an opportunity to join people of all ages in activities focused on exploring peace from a local and global perspective. Local YMCAs recognize unsung heroes within our community - individuals who give of their own time and money to make a positive difference in our world.   

 2017 marks the 30th Anniversary of the YMCA Peace Medal. It was developed in 1987 by the International Committee at the YMCA of Fredericton. That year, this committee of volunteers and staff was tasked with developing Peace Week support materials for YMCAs across the country.

 Inspired by efforts of Jim and Kay Bedell in raising awareness of the 1982 United Nations Disarmament Conference by walking from New Brunswick to New York City to attend, the Committee decided to institute an award, a peace medal, to be given by YMCAs across the country each year to people like Jim and Kay.

 Since 1987, more than 1,900 individuals and groups across Canada have been recognized with YMCA Peace Medals. This list of local recipients is attached.Today, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario celebrated Peace Week by awarding the YMCA Peace Medallion to a local winner: 

Aruba Mahmud – Sarnia
YMCA 2017 Peace Medallion Award Winner – Individual Category

Aruba is very active in the Sarnia-Lambton area doing outreach work and interfaith work through the Sarnia Muslim Association.  Since 2014, she has been speaking to students, community groups and others about anti-racism and Islamophobia.  Over the last 3 years she has given dozens of talks and presentations to elementary and secondary students, to Girl Guides and Scout groups.  She’s also spoken to adults – teachers at PD sessions, diversity training sessions, and has spread her peace-keeping efforts into Lambton College and Western University.  Her goal of her presentations is to challenge misinformation and discrimination, promote discussion and diversity, and promote peace and coexistence. (Photo attached).

If interested in interviewing the award recipient, or taking photos, please call for contact information.

 Gerry Gillis, Communications Manager
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 381-9948
ggillis@ymcaswo.ca 

 

July 5, 2017

From Campfires to Confidence

Big news for Southwestern Ontario as YMCAs and Parks Canada partner to connect youth to nature at Point Pelee National Park’s revitalized Camp Henry

LONDON & SARNIA – July 5, 2017 – The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario and the YMCA of Western Ontario have announced a partnership with Parks Canada to establish a new overnight summer camping destination for children ages 5-15 at Point Pelee National Park. Camp Henry, originally established in 1938, will again be home to summer fun for hundreds of children and youth, including swimming, archery, canoeing, crafts, and wilderness adventures.

 The camp is open this summer for 7 weeks, from July 16 to August 31, with the final week of the summer dedicated to family camping, where the entire family can camp together and enjoy everything traditional overnight camping has to offer.

 But, says YMCA of Western Ontario CEO, Andrew Lockie, camp can benefit a child long after the summer is done.

 “Parents of children who attend our camps regularly remark on how it provides them with so many life skills - confidence, resilience, the ability to make friends or even combat the devastating effects of bullying. We are incredibly proud to offer summer experiences that last a lifetime.”

 What’s so unique about this summer camp experience at Point Pelee? Campers will be staying in Parks Canada’s brand new state of the art oTENTiks. These unique accommodations are a cross between a tent and a cabin that sleep 7 campers and one counsellor. Campers have the fun experience of sleeping in a tent with the added comfort of a bunk bed and heating, all while experiencing Canada’s outdoors.

 This, paired with the YMCA’s long history of high quality child development programs, makes Camp Henry the ideal place for kids of all backgrounds and abilities, according to Jim Janzen, President & CEO of the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario.

 “The YMCA has always been open to all. We pride ourselves on developing all kids, at any age or stage, with talented, caring staff and best in class facilities. Camp Henry expands our ability to do this for even more children in our region.”

 This programme, aimed at connecting youth with nature is a natural fit for Parks Canada. Canada’s national parks and national historic sites represent the very best this country has to offer, and this new YMCA camp programme will help young campers develop the skills and confidence to experience them.

 “Point Pelee National Park is a gateway to nature, adventure and discovery. We are pleased to partner with the YMCA to offer new and innovative programmes that allow youth to experience the outdoors and learn about our environment,” says Maria Papoulias, Superintendent of Point Pelee National Park. “These children will create lifelong memories with new friends while connecting with nature in the national park, and we are thrilled to be a part of that.”

 Limited space is still available for some weeks of camp. More information is available at: www.camphenry.ca.

 A free open house for all registered camper families and interested families will take place on July 8, from 11am-2pm, with fun activities that provide a ‘taste of camp’.

 

For more information, please contact:

 Kelly Reynolds, YMCA Camp Director  Tel: 519-318-7244

 Elizabeth LeBlanc, Communications Officer  Tel: 905-651-4507

Southwestern Ontario, Parks Canada

 

 

 

FROM:      YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario 

FOR:         Immediate Release, June 26th 2017

RE:             Resignation of YMCA CEO                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Jim Janzen has announced his resignation from the position as President and CEO of YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario, effective September 15, 2017.  Jim will continue his work on behalf of the National YMCA movement, and has accepted the position of Senior Vice President, YMCA Ontario Resource Development Centre (RDC) with the YMCA of Greater Toronto. 

Our YMCA has experienced tremendous growth and success under Jim’s leadership.  He has served as the President & CEO since 2005 and is a 32-year YMCA professional – previously working with the YMCAs in London, Cobourg, Hamilton/Burlington and Calgary.  Through his leadership, Jim has grown and developed YMCAs in this region; in Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent, Goderich-Huron, Lambton Shores, North Middlesex and Central Huron as the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario, a strong mid-major YMCA in the North American movement.  The Y is a leading local charity with revenues in excess of $16M / annum and touches over 24,000 people annually through the services ranging from health and fitness to licensed child care and newcomer settlement.  In his new position with YMCA Ontario, he will support YMCAs in Ontario through transformational changes, including strategic mergers and growth opportunities.  Jim will also continue to reside in Camlachie with his family.

Transition plans for the next 90 - 180 days are currently being developed to ensure a smooth changeover in leadership of the YMCA in Southwestern Ontario.  The YMCA Board is scheduled to meet in July 13th to determine transition strategy for the position, and more details will be available at that time.

For more Information contact:

Emily Brown
Executive Assistant to President & CEO
519-336-9622 x 232
ebrown@ymcaswo.ca    

 

May 2, 2017 

OTF Grant helps grow YMCA’s Beyond the Bell program 

Sarnia, ON – The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario are pleased to announce that the YMCA is the recipient of the Ontario Trillium Grow Grant of $683,700 for the YMCA Beyond the Bell after-school program. 

“Congratulations to the Board of Directors and the Staff of the YMCA on being awarded the Ontario Trillium Grow Grant,” said Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia – Lambton. “This funding will support the important contributions that the YMCA makes in the lives of the people and communities it serves.” 

The grant will be used over a three-year period to continue the support of three existing YMCA Beyond the Bell sites, and will help program expansion to Walpole Island Elementary School in 2018 and another unconfirmed location in 2019. YMCA Beyond the Bell programs are currently offered at P.E. McGibbon Public School in Sarnia, A.A. Wright Public School in Wallaceburg and St. Ursula Catholic School in Chatham. 

The YMCA Beyond the Bell program is a free after school program for grade school children. By working closely with teachers, the individual challenges of each child are identified, understood and a preventative plan of action is put in place, helping children improve literacy and numeracy skills, build social skills, develop self-confidence and experience new opportunities. The program provides the children with the tools and support they need to help close the achievement gap experience by low-income children, and develop a stronger and more successful future. 

"The impact of this Ontario Trillium Foundation grant cannot be underestimated,” said YMCA President & CEO Jim Janzen. ““This grant will allow youth to reach their academic potential and serve our community better. We’re grateful for the ongoing support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation for our YMCA Beyond the Bell program.” 

An agency of the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one of Canada’s largest granting foundations. With a budget of over $136 million, OTF awards grants to some 1,000 projects every year to build healthy and vibrant Ontario communities. www.otf.ca 

For more information contact: 

Jim Janzen, YMCA President & CEO YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario 

(519) 381-9947 

jjanzen@ymcaswo.ca

 




February 14, 2017 

Sarnia-Lambton launches 2017 Strong Kids Campaign

Sarnia, ON – The Sarnia-Lambton YMCA were proud to kick-off their annual YMCA Strong Kids Fundraising Campaign today with a goal of $226,650 and a generous $25,000 donation from Kelgor. The annual campaign helps fund local YMCA programs that improve the lives of children and youth from families with financial barriers, by giving them access to nutritious food, recreation and healthy environments. Donor support made a difference in our community by providing 975 people with membership assistance last year, giving more kids, adults, seniors and families a chance to experience the YMCA in their own way.
“We are grateful for the first significant corporate donation of $25,000 from Kelgor, a great indication of the business community’s support of Strong Kids”, says Jim Janzen, CEO of YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario. “We want to provide opportunities for young people to reach their potential, achieve their goals and improve their lives. Last year, one in six kids coming to a YMCA Health, Fitness & Aquatic Centre required financial assistance, and that need continues. The YMCA Strong Kids Fundraising Campaign helps eliminate the very real financial barriers these children face, and without it we would not be able to serve them. We want to provide a healthy, safe and positive environment where children, teens and young adults can flourish, and the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, along with generous donations from local businesses like Kelgor, help make that a reality.”
The YMCA Strong Kids Campaign runs February 14-April 30; however donations can be made throughout the year. For campaign details please visit www.ystrongkids.ca.

Kelgor Donation Cheque
Photo Caption: L-R: YMCA President & CEO Jim Janzen, YMCA Strong Kids Campaign Cabinet Chair Shawn Zettle, YMCA General Manager Tracey Taylor and YMCA Community Engagement Coordinator Brittany Kueneman with YMCA Child Care participants in front.

About the YMCA
The Y is a charitable organization dedicated to serving our community through the development of all people in spirit, mind and body, regardless of their ability to pay. The Y reaches out to children and families throughout the community to provide opportunities they might otherwise never have. Through programs and services, the Y provides the recreational, learning and life-enriching experiences that build healthy communities.

For further information, please contact:
Jim Janzen, CEO
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario (519) 336-9622 ext 224
jjanzen@ymcaswo.ca

 

November 21, 2016 

YMCA honours 3 local peacekeepers with peace medallion

Sarnia, ON – Build community.  Act for peace.  That’s the message the YMCA is sending this week as YMCAs across Canada celebrate YMCA World Peace Week, providing an opportunity to join people of all ages in activities focused on exploring peace from a local and global perspective. Local YMCAs recognize unsung heroes within our community - individuals who give of their own time and money to make a positive difference in our world.   Today, and Wednesday, the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario will celebrate Peace Week by awarding the YMCA Peace Medallion to three local winners: 

Mike Hurry – Sarnia (presented Nov 21 at Rotary Club luncheon)
YMCA 2016 Peace Medallion Award Winner – Individual Category

A life-long Sarnia resident and experienced leader and advocate within the local and provincial charitable sector, Mike makes change happen for folks by leading it.  His passion goes a distance beyond the difference his work makes to the community.
Mike has been, and continues to be a force for good through his volunteer leadership at Rotary, and within the Sarnia-Lambton social service network.  But his passion for people and the role we play in our world extends far beyond where his vocation has taken him.   Along with his wife Deb, they have provided a safe, springboard for generations of young people who have come of age in our community.  He does that by opening his home, and his heart that is so central to his passion to providing a role model to needs of youth.
Mike uses his passion of adventure travel and back country travel to impart on youth the strength of character and the role that leadership plays in our lives.  As demonstrated by his in-country leadership on a trek through the Canadian Rockies for youth from Children’s Aid this past summer.  
Similarly, Mike has become known through his work for several years in raising awareness of the needs of young people in Sarnia-Lambton, by leading adventure travel treks to Kenya, Tanzania, Peru, Nunavut and most recently Nepal.  Those who travel with Mike, young and old, become connected to his passion for cultural awareness, service of youth, and the over-riding need to provide young people with a connection to positive role models. He connects with adults who make a difference for others through a passion and commitment to the outdoors, and the global village we all live in.  What’s great about Mike is that many of these leaders go on to influence youth on their own, in their own jobs and throughout their lives.  Dozens of today’s leaders of youth in and outside of our community owe an element of their passion and perseverance to Mike.  His impact is unprecedented in our community.
Mike’s love for the outdoors and people’s connection to it eclipses his day-job.  It compliments all he is as a leader and community guide.  


Photo Caption
(L-R): Marie Watson, YMCA Community Programs Coordinator and Rotary Assistance Governor Area 5 presents the 2016 YMCA Peace Medallion to Mike Hurry. (Courtesy of Blackburn News)

Hime for Help (founder Emily Hime) – Chatham (being presented Wed Nov 23 at Chatham-Kent YMCA)
YMCA 2016 Peace Medallion Award Winner – Organization Category

In 2010 Emily, at 17 years of age, traveled to Ghana, Africa, where she volunteered as a caregiver at the Mount Zion Holly Hills Orphanage and school, and in 2011 she traveled to the earthquake and hurricane ravished Island of Haiti.
In 2012, Emily founded ‘Hime for Help’, a not-for-profit corporation supporting causes in third world countries.  She currently runs a children’s orphanage in poverty stricken Port Au Prince, Haiti where 17 children currently reside. She also sponsors over ten children and families living in extreme poverty and provides them the opportunity to attend school.   She also supports a tent city of 76 people by providing clothing, food, and medical treatment, as well as a remote village in the mountains of Montrouis where she personally sponsors a family of nine and provides care packages, medical care, clothing, and food for other Haitians in the village. 
For the first 3 years Emily was very 'hands on’, living and working in Haiti, but now that she has an 8 month old at home she is spending more time in Canada developing tuition sponsors and connecting them to the children, fundraising and acting as spokesperson for Haiti, helping to inform Canadians and encourage their involvement.
Emily was recognized as a founding Woman of Excellence by the May Court Club of Chatham in 2016, and was one of the featured speakers at the Chatham TED talk last month.
Emily is now 24 years old and continues to promote peace in one of the most violent and poverty stricken countries in the world by bravely maintaining an orphanage despite almost non-existent infrastructure, constant government corruption and little law and order.  She is an inspiration to all youth in her determined and successful efforts to give these orphans a future.


Elaaf Siddiqui – Chatham (being presented Wed Nov 23 at Chatham-Kent YMCA)
YMCA 2015 Peace Medallion Award Winner – Youth Category

Elaaf Siddiqui, nicknamed ‘Pinky’, is a graduate of Chatham-Kent Secondary School and a first year student at McMaster University.  She’s also a recipient of the YMCA 2016 Celebration of Youth Awards. As an advocate for social justice, Pinky helped educate the Chatham-Kent community on the Syrian crisis and to obtain sponsorship support for refugees. While at secondary school, Pinky joined the Gay/Straight Alliance as well as Global Voices, both groups aimed to support minority groups who may be oppressed or facing challenges of acceptance among their peer population.
Pinky was a person of colour attending a Caucasian dominated school, and quickly realized, as she states, “I used my identity to lift the voices of other minority students around the school. I built a foundation of trust and support within different groups of people.” Through Pinky’s demonstrated leadership among her peer group, she not only promoted her school and community as a more peaceful place, she also educated her fellow peers and faculty in the cultural diversity that existed within the student body.
In Pinky’s student leadership role, she was an organizer of the Multicultural Day at CKSS, a day where everyone attending school on a particular day wore their traditional clothing, helping to provide an opportunity for all to embrace and appreciate the diversity with the school. 
She has also volunteered at the Islamic school every Sunday, educating younger children on Islamic etiquettes and other religious components.  Pinky also has extensive community involvement for fundraising with the CK Goodfellows, OSPCA, United Way, and CMHA.
Pinky is now attending McMaster University, and her social advocacy interests have continued. She is currently a member of a group called ‘Changing the World Through Literacy’ which works with elementary schools to offer an after school program to foster a passion for literacy in youth. As a result, many of the elementary students act as translators for the new Syrian immigrants.  She is a member of The Citizens Foundation, the first university chapter worldwide, helping financially support education programs to raise awareness about the state of education in Pakistan.


If interested in interviewing the award recipients, or taking photos, please call for contact information.

Gerry Gillis, Communications Manager
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 381-9948
ggillis@ymcaswo.ca 





October 17, 2016

YMCA accepting nominations for 4th Annual Inspiring Women in Huron Awards

Goderich, ON – Do you know a woman who has improved the lives of other women and children by being a role model and advocate using their talents, vision and determination to make our community a better place? The YMCA, in partnership with the Huron Women’s Shelter is accepting nominations for the 4th annual Inspiring Women in Huron Award. The award recognizes women who have demonstrated a contribution to improving the lives of others in one or more of the following areas: arts and culture, community, diversity, education, business/professional leadership, global action, health and welfare, leadership, philanthropy, social justice, sport, volunteerism, or women's rights. Nominees are in the age categories of 16-29 years and 30 + years.

Last year, Inspiring Women in Huron recognized the contributions of 24 women from across Huron County at a celebration dinner held in Goderich. It featured guest speaker OPP Sgt. Tracey Coughlin, who spoke about her deployment to South Sudan as a Peacekeeper and of her work with Confident Children Out of Conflict, a charity that aims to get small children off of the streets and into schools. Tracey’s inspirational story shared her plans to move to South Sudan and run Confident Children Out of Conflict as its director prepares to retire.

YMCA Senior VP Kathi Lomas-McGee explains, “The YMCA’s focus is to build healthy communities by strengthening families, addressing challenges facing children and youth and improving personal health. We are thrilled to help honour these women who also strive to improve our communities.”

Donna Jean Forster-Gill, Executive Director for the Huron Women’s Shelter states, “Huron Women’s Shelter has been supporting and championing women in Huron County since 1985. We are delighted to partner with the YMCA in offering this special awards event in Huron County. We live in a community where many amazing women are inspiring to us all each and every day! We are fortunate to be able to celebrate them at this event. I have no doubt that everyone who attends this event will leave inspired. “
Winners will be awarded at the 2017 Inspiring Women in Huron awards dinner on March 3, 2017. Deadline for Nominations is December 30, 2016.
Nomination forms available at www.ymcaswo.ca, www.huronwomensshelter.ca hard copy or by request to: athomson@ymcaswo.ca.

Media contact:
Anne-Marie Thomson
Goderich-Huron YMCA
(519) 524-2125 x205
athomson@ymcaswo.



September 1, 2016

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities helps YMCA keep kids afloat


YMCA summer camp participants donning their new life jackets and ready for the pool.

Chatham, ON – Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities has donated 30 life jackets to the Chatham-Kent YMCA. Through its donation,  Jumpstart has directly assisted YMCA programs for toddlers and small children, and has furthered the YMCA’s vision to build healthy communities. 

“This donation came at an ideal time as the pool is extremely busy with camp kids,” says Chris Prince, YMCA Community Engagement Coordinator.  “Jumpstart’s support allowed us to purchase the safety devices at a deep discount provided by the local Canadian Tire store, enabling more kids the opportunity to safely swim at their YMCA.”

The lifejackets are used daily for many different programs including swim lessons, drop-in swimming and swim camps. The Chatham-Kent YMCA offers various swim programs year-round.

In 2015, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities helped more than 690 kids get in the game and disbursed over $105,800 across its Chatham-Kent Chapter.  Since 2005, Jumpstart has disbursed a total of $428,641 for 2,725 kids in Chatham-Kent to participate in the sports and physical activities they love.               

About the YMCA

The YMCA is a charity dedicated to strengthening the foundations of communities, by nurturing the potential of children, teens and young adults; promoting healthy living; and fostering social responsibility.  The YMCA’s focus on inclusiveness and accessibility helps serve people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life.  Through YMCA financial assistance programs, the YMCA is accessible to all.  Core offerings include: Childcare, Camping, Aquatics, Health & Fitness, Education, Employment Services, Volunteer Development, Global Initiatives, Community Initiatives and Opportunities to Give.

For further information, please contact:
Chris Prince, YMCA Community Engagement Coordinator
Chatham-Kent YMCA
(519) 360-9622 x113
cprince@ymcaswo.ca         




May 27, 2016

YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards honour Chatham-Kent youth

Chatham, ON – The YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards recognizes local youth who demonstrate sensitivity to others, innovation, academic responsibility, development of personal talents, and give back to their community in practical ways. Helping students as they strive toward a better, healthier future is the goal of the YMCA's Celebration of Youth.

Yesterday evening, May 26, at the Retro Suites Hotel, the Chatham-Kent YMCA, sponsors and community partners were extremely proud to recognize these unique individuals in our community. Each award recipient was presented with a $1,000 award.

The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario offer three YMCA Celebration of Youth Award ceremonies: Sarnia-Lambton (May 22, 2014), Chatham-Kent (May 26, 2016) and Goderich-Huron (Apr 30, 2016), awarding over 40 deserving students.

coy winnners
Pictured here:
Back row (L-R): Carys Wynn Owen (CKSS), Meghan Domony (CKSS), Emily Hiltz (Ursuline College), Katelyn Taylor (Chatham Christian School), Brandon Vaughan (Ridgetown SS), Mahmoud Ibari (Blenheim High School) Front Row (L-R): Natasha Lugtigheid (Chatham Christian School), Elaaf Siddiqui (CKSS), Payton Pugh (CKSS), Gabrielle Gooch (Ursuline College), Hannah Clark (Lambton Kent Composite School), Olivia Ermers (Blenheim High School)


For further information on student’s achievements, please contact:
Gerry Gillis
Communications Manager YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 336-9622x237
ggillis@ymcaswo.ca





May 13, 2016

YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards honour Lambton County youth

Sarnia, ON – The YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards recognizes local youth who demonstrate sensitivity to others, innovation, academic responsibility, development of personal talents, and give back to their community in practical ways. Helping students as they strive toward a better, healthier future is the goal of the YMCA's Celebration of Youth.

Yesterday evening, May 12, at P.E. McGibbon School, the Sarnia-Lambton YMCA, sponsors and community partners were extremely proud to recognize these unique individuals in our community. Each award recipient was presented with a $1,000 award.
The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario offer three YMCA Celebration of Youth Award ceremonies: Sarnia-Lambton (May 22, 2014), Chatham-Kent (May 26, 2016) and Goderich-Huron (Apr 30, 2016), awarding over 40 deserving students.



Pictured here:
Back row (L-R): Billy Armstrong (LCCVI), Julia Soetemans (NLSS), Noah McEwan (Northern), Shanika Mahakul (Northern), Kennady Osborne (SCITS), Courtney Cheswick (SCITS), Douglas Thibert (St. Francis Xavier), Kyle Culliton (St. Pat’s) Middle Row (L-R): Alexandra Hext (LCCVI), Kassy Ross (St. Clair), Kaylee Zavitz (NLSS), Madison McKinlay (LCCVI), Eric Ghobril (St. Pat’s), Brittany Edwards (AMSS), Taylor White (AMSS) Front Row Kneeling (L-R): Ruth Schoenmakers (St. Pat’s), Katie Brandon-Wheeler (St.Pat’s) Missing from photo: Kevin Pattison (St. Clair)

For further information on student’s achievements, please contact:
Gerry Gillis
Communications Manager YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 336-9622x237
ggillis@ymcaswo.ca



May 2, 2016

YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards honour Huron County youth

coy kids

Award Winners L-R: Alyssa Bourassa, Haley Ferguson, Connor Cox, Brooke Malley, Sean Mitchell, Sarah Alton, Hillary Schramm, Aryn Buchanan and Kayla Datema.

Goderich, ON – The YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards recognizes youth in Huron County who demonstrate sensitivity to others, talent, innovation, academic responsibility, development of personal talents, and give back to their community in practical ways. Helping students as they strive toward a better, healthier future is the goal of the YMCA's Celebration of Youth.
This past Saturday, April 30, at the Bayfield Town Hall, the Goderich-Huron YMCA, sponsors and community partners were extremely proud to recognize these unique individuals in our community. Each award recipient was presented with a $1,000 Award.

Social Good Award: Alyssa Bourassa (GDCI)
Health & Wellness Award: Connor Cox (GDCI)
Volunteerism & Community Service: Hillary Schramm (GDCI)
Personal Achievement Award: Kayla Datema (CHSS)
Personal Achievement Award: Aryn Buchanan (GDCI)
Philanthropy Award: Brooke Malley (GDCI)
Philanthropy Award: Sean Mitchell (CHSS)
Volunteerism & Community Service: Haley Ferguson (GDCI)
Health & Wellness Award: Sarah Alton (F.E. Madill SS)

YMCA VP Kathi Lomas-McGee stated, “The YMCA Celebration of Youth Awards is one example of the Y’s commitment to contribute to the growth and development of youth in our communities. The Y, community partners and sponsors are extremely proud of the opportunity to recognize these remarkable Huron County students.” The event began in Sarnia over 16 years ago and has expanded during the last 6 years. The YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario now offer three annual YMCA Celebration of Youth Award ceremonies: Sarnia-Lambton (May 12, 2016), Chatham-Kent (May 26, 2016) and Goderich-Huron (Apr 30, 2016). Erin Roy, Volunteer Chair of the YMCA Celebration of Youth Committee, explains, “Our committee of staff and volunteers are amazed each year at how passionate these Grade 12 students are about giving back to their community; and we work hard to interview all applicants, and recognize award recipients for their volunteerism and commitment to their school and career.”

For further information, please contact:
Kathi Lomas-McGee
Senior VP – Operations & Financial Development YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 440-2305
klomasmcgee@ymcaswo.ca



April 25, 2016

NOVA Chemicals helps YMCA support aboriginal youth


(L-R): $27,500 donation from NOVA Chemical Regional Manufacturing Director Tom Thompson to YMCA Supervisor Joe Cebulski , YMCA CEO Jim Janzen, along with Tony Jacobs - Aamjiwnaang Coordinator, Garnet Wilde - Stoney & Kettle Point Coordinator and Monica Shipman - Aamjiwnaang Coordinator.

Sarnia, ON – NOVA Chemicals has joined the Sarnia-Lambton YMCA in its vision to provide healthy communities.   Through its donation of $27,500 NOVA Chemicals has enabled the YMCA to offer leadership programs to aboriginal youth.  

The YMCA Youth Aboriginal Leadership initiative and Leaders of Tomorrow program, offered to youth aged 14-17 years, is a unique blend of outdoor adventure, community involvement and skill development, helping to build increased self-awareness, leadership and problem solving skills, communication and teamwork. 

With NOVA Chemicals corporate sponsorship, the YMCA is able to offer the leadership program to aboriginal groups at no charge and expand the curriculum to increase enrollment – extending the program’s impact to more aboriginal youth throughout the community. In 2015, NOVA Chemicals’ support helped over 165 aboriginal youth participate in the program and attend summer camps at the YMCA Leadership Challenge Centre.

Jim Janzen, YMCA President & CEO states “We’re proud of our YMCA Leadership Challenge Centre and the successful youth leadership programs offered, and are very grateful for NOVA Chemicals’ generous donation to this program.  This is the 3rd year NOVA Chemicals has provided this support, which has allowed us to expand our offering of this unique opportunity to aboriginal youth at no charge.”            

Tom Thompson, NOVA Chemicals’ Regional Manufacturing Director said, “We are pleased to provide ongoing support to the Sarnia-Lambton YMCA and aboriginal communities through our donation to the YMCA Youth Aboriginal Leadership initiative and Leaders of Tomorrow program. It’s important to us to develop and sustain healthy communities where we live and work, and this is a great opportunity.”                

About the YMCA

The YMCA is a charity dedicated to strengthening the foundations of communities, by nurturing the potential of children, teens and young adults; promoting healthy living; and fostering social responsibility.  The YMCA’s focus on inclusiveness and accessibility helps serve people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life.  Through YMCA financial assistance programs, the YMCA is accessible to all.  Core offerings include: Childcare, Camping, Aquatics, Health & Fitness, Education, Employment Services, Volunteer Development, Global Initiatives, Community Initiatives and Opportunities to Give.

For further information, please contact:

Jim Janzen, YMCA President & CEO
YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario
(519) 381-9947
jjanzen@ymcaswo.ca

 

 

 

 

 
 
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