Published October 05, 2023 14:00
Grateful, thankful, blessed… that sums up how I feel when I reflect on my childhood and the impact BGC Ottawa has had on my life, and still does.
I was 9 years old when I first set foot inside BGC Ottawa’s Ron Kolbus Clubhouse. My parents owned a small business and worked long hours. After school care was necessary to ensure I was safe. What we found at BGC Ottawa was that safe space , but also people we could trust. This gave comfort to my parents so they could provide for our family. For me, the staff made me feel like I was important, took an interest in me as a person, and valued my contributions to the Club and the community. I’m grateful that a BGC Ottawa Clubhouse was in my backyard, and that I had the opportunity to learn new things, grow as a person and excel in basketball, the sport that I loved, surrounded by people who truly cared about me .
Every day, I am thankful that there is a space where children and youth can develop skills for life and grow into the person they want to be. That opportunity is something that the Club, thanks to generous donors across the city, provides for young people. I am thankful for the people at BGC Ottawa. The people who cared about me. The people who wanted to learn more about my family, to celebrate my triumphs and to help me overcome any troubles that I was facing in school or at home.
I genuinely believe that opportunity changes everything. With your continued support of BGC Ottawa, young people of all backgrounds will always have a safe space, surrounded by incredible people, to call their own. Over the past year, BGC Ottawa’s membership has increased to more than 5,000 children and youth, who made more than 100,000 visits to our Clubhouses to participate in multiple programs. Additionally, our community outreach team had nearly 20,000 interactions throughout the 19 neighbourhoods that we currently serve. The Club has doubled its impact in recent years, but the need is growing. Please give a gift today to ensure BGC Ottawa can be there for the thousands of kids who need us right now, and in the future .
As BGC Ottawa’s Chief Programs Officer, I feel blessed that I can help new generations of young people – children and youth who need a safe space, who need access to barrier-free programs and services, and the support of great mentors in their lives. The impact this has for Members is phenomenal – having access to our FREE programs helps them to develop skills to become successful academically and beyond when they chose their career path, but it also exposes them to everything BGC Ottawa has to offer. I get to share in their experience and watch them grow, just like I did.
What many people don’t know is that I’m not alone. Club alumni jump at the opportunity to give back to BGC Ottawa, whether it’s to volunteer their time, kick-start their career or make a lasting impact on generation after generation. I invited members of our team to share a few words on what BGC Ottawa means to them, and why they are grateful, thankful and blessed and here is what they said:
“I am grateful to BGCO for providing me with the necessary opportunities to grow academically, professionally and personally. Since the first day I walked through the doors of the Ron Kolbus Clubhouse, I was welcomed with open arms and allowed to play, laugh, grow and build lasting friendships.”
– Michael Tshimanga, Board Member / Co-Chair – EDI Committee, BGCO Alumnus, former volunteer and staff member
“I am thankful to BGCO for simply being there for countless children and youth. Having a steady stream of programs that are open to serve the community makes a gigantic impact. Couple this with summer fun and an incredible sleep-away camp, and you can see how serviceable BGCO is to the community, which helped me grow from Member/Camper to Councilor/Staff. Thank you!”
– Timothy Lyon, Youth Development & Program Specialist, BGCO/Camp Smitty Alumnus
“I have been part of the BGCO family for over 20 years. It is a passion of mine to give back, and to help those who need a little direction in their lives. I feel blessed when former Members return to the Club to share what they are doing in their current life, and how just the little bit of time I spent with them changed their outlook on everything.”
– Tammy Laroque, Taggart Parkes Family Clubhouse Manager, BGCO Alumnus
I am so lucky to have benefited from BGC Ottawa, and to experience first-hand the positive impact that community donations have on thousands of kids each year. If you have the means, please consider becoming a monthly donor to help kids reach their full potential in a safe, supportive environment .
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support and for being our partner.
Chief Programs Officer