Goldbloom Awards: Honouring the men behind Sun Youth
Sun Youth is an organization most people know, however they may not know that the two men behind it knew each other as children, and built it up together.
Sid Stevens and Earl De La Perralle are recipients of the Goldbloom Awards being handed out next week. The awards honour leaders in Quebec.
Both men are now in their 70s and grew up around Montreal’s Clark St.
In 1954 the young boys were searching for an outlet.
“We wanted to keep ourselves busy and out of trouble, because at that time 1954/55 you couldn't hand around on the street,” Stevens said. “The police would charge you with loitering.”
So the two friends found a space and started their own newspaper.
“We started a hand written newspaper,” said Stevens. “We used to circulate from door to door. We'd rent you a newspaper for two cents a copy and we generated $500 worth of revenue that year.”
They reinvested the $500, and then six years later they formed Sun Youth.
“We've gone from a small little newspaper into a large conglomerate organization, with a $7 million budget, 1500 volunteers and helping thousands of people throughout the year,” explained Stevens. “We don't believe it ourselves sometimes.”
Sun Youth’s president, Bob Mironowicz, was happy to tout the virtues of De La Perralle.
“I think the biggest thing is that he cares, he cares about every single child that has ever been involved here,” he said. “Be it football or basketball, they all know him and they all love him.”
While Stevens is the face of Sun Youth, De La Perralle worked behind the scenes and was active with coaching.
“Seeing a lot of professional youngsters go to play professional sports, whether its hockey, basketball,” said Mironowicz. “When you walk out of this office and there's 350 youngsters on the board who've done very well in life, that's a great feeling. A lot of professional athletes come back to say hello again.”
Decades ago many fires tore through their neighbourhood and the both men worked hard to help the community.
“We used to hijack buses,” Stevens recalled. “We stopped a bus and we ask people to get off the bus because there were fire victims we had to place. The mayor approached us, mayor Jean Drapeau at the time said you can't hijack buses, if you want we'll rent you a bus for $50 an hour.
Sid has now worked with eight different mayors, met numerous politicians, and has accepted donations from the likes of Paul Newman. All of their hard work has been so they could help children through sports and families through dozens of programs including a food and clothing bank.
“I always say easy things are done by all the other people,” said Stevens.