North York Mirror
Friday, August 8, 2008

BBYO boosted by Trillium funds

Provincial grant will expand local youth programs


B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO) is looking to expand thanks to a $73,500 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.

The grant, to be dispensed over two years, will be used to hire a new staff member and to grow BBYO's Lake Ontario Region, which is headquartered in North York.

Founded in 1923, the trans-denominational Jewish youth movement focuses on leadership training, travel and social activities for teenagers in grades 9 to 12 across the globe.

The Lake Ontario Region BBYO currently boasts some 250 members throughout Toronto and York Region and is hoping to take on more thanks to the grant, said Kevin Goodman, program director of the local BBYO region.

"We want to expand our youth-led activities," he said. "The big thing here is to reach out to the Jewish youth. We reach out to the entire community, from those who keep kosher to those who have never stepped foot in a synagogue."

BBYO works with youth through outreach programs such as volunteerism, program planning, public speaking and advocacy to foster leadership skills and self confidence in young people.

BBYO in North America is divided into regions and each region has multiple chapters, Goodman said, adding the Lake Ontario Region is run out of 4700 Bathurst St., south of Finch Avenue.

"They lead themselves," Goodman said of the chapters. "Throughout the school year we focus on activities and the summer is for leadership training and travel."

The Lake Ontario Region BBYO as a whole meets monthly for various social events, while each chapter regularly holds activities such as movie nights and Shabbat services, Goodman said.

"BBYO has so many different selling points," he said. "Some join to make friends, some want to connect within the Jewish community, some want travel opportunity, some want social opportunity."

Travel to Israel is part of BBYO, Goodman said, adding those past high school age can remain active in the organization through volunteerism or joining the board of directors.