100 kilometre bike tour raises funds for Youth Unlimited

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Two local residents recently biked 100 kilometres to raise money for the Upper Deck Youth Centre in Tillsonburg.

Sue Robinson and Brenda Foris took part in the Youth Unlimited Tour For Teens bike tour on Saturday, June 15 from Listowel.

Robinson is satellite director for the Upper Deck Youth Centre and Foris is chair of the steering committee with Youth Unlimited, which operates out of the Upper Deck Youth Centre.

“We rode 100 kilometres – people could choose the 30 kilometre or the 100 kilometre route,” said Robinson, noting it took five-and-a-half hours to bike the 100-kilometre tour with just three breaks during the day.

Approximately 90 riders with Youth Unlimited from across southwestern Ontario took part in the event.

“The two of us raised about $2,000. The money will go right back to Tillsonburg and the Upper Deck Youth Centre.”

Despite the fact that they own the building, money is needed to run the centre every month explained Robinson.

“It costs us about $1,500 a month in expenses for such things as taxes and hydro. Also, the staff have to raise their own support to work here. The money I raised will go towards my own support.

“If we don’t raise our support, we don’t get paid,” she added. “And if we don’t do fundraisers, there’s nothing to pay the bills.”

Youth Unlimited holds four major fundraisers throughout the year including a bowl-a-thon in March, an annual golf tournament in June, and golf-a-thon in September and an annual banquet in November.

Robinson said there is no government funding for the youth centre in Tillsonburg and although they do get generous donations from the community, local businesses, churches and other organizations, that money is beginning to diminish amidst tough economic times.

“We do have individuals that donate but it’s starting to dwindle as companies shut down. We get funding from churches and we get funding from corporations as well. We need to raise about $250,000 a year and it all comes through individuals, fundraisers and corporations.”

The Upper Deck Youth Centre has been a part of the Tillsonburg community for over 25 years. The organization provides much needed programming and a safe place for youth to gather.

“We have three different purposes – it’s a place to go, a purpose to live by with people who care. We really thrive on those three principles that kids can come and be themselves. We’re finding more and more that kids don’t want to go home after school because no one is home – both parents are working or most of our youth are from single parent homes and the single parent is working as well.

“They come here, free meals are given to them - they’re taught how to eat as a family, a community, and they make friends.”

Approximately 400 youth between the ages of 8-18 use the centre on a weekly basis, either during their lunch hour, after school or in the evening as part of evening programs and activities.

In addition, Youth Unlimited offers off-site weekend and weekday trips, bike tours, camping trips and beach days during the summer months.

“It not only teaches them how to cook, how to make food but we also offer sports, crafts, activities and just a place to hang out.”

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