Kevin Twomey, public relations representative for the local chapter of the Kinsmen, said that when Brendan Young ran for club president, “he told the membership, ‘I don't let anything stand in my way.’ He just completed a successful two-year presidency, and I wanted to give a shout-out to recognize his contributions. Brendan kept us on a solid foundation, providing timely updates and words of encouragement during difficult pandemic times.”
The Kinsmen’s national policy at the start of the pandemic was to “stand down,” said Twomey, and follow the government orders to stay at home. “With vaccinations increasing, we're targeting September for a full restart,” he said.
The Kinsmen Club of Fonthill and District was founded in 1951 as a community service organization. Its inaugural donation was a sewing machine provided to A. K. Wigg School, and the organization followed this up with sponsorship of the Victoria Day Parade in 1952. Fundraising-supported causes include the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Pelham minor sports, Special Olympics Welland, Niagara Children’s Safety Village, Wellspring Niagara, Pelham Cares, and the Welland Hospital.
The club also sustains a program of local high school scholarships, the Paul Bray Award for student volunteerism, a Christmas poinsettia drive for seniors, and the Pelham Citizen of the Year (which was last awarded in 2020 to Michael Jacques, just before lockdown). The Kinsmen annually host both a craft show, and a home and leisure show, but their events were curtailed due to pandemic restrictions.
The club’s membership covers a broad cross section of the community, and is open to all men age 19 and over. With membership now at 24, when a pandemic isn’t on the Kinsmen normally meet every two weeks at the old Pelham Town Hall on Canboro Road in Ridgeville. Len Doyle assumed the presidency on July 1.
Young, who was born and raised in Fonthill and has been a Kinsmen since 2009, spoke modestly about his role in the club’s evolution under his leadership.
“Despite the pandemic, we did some events during my term as president. A couple brought in a lot of donations, others not as much,” he said. “We were part of the Remembrance Day wreath laying in November at the Fonthill Legion, participated in the Pelham Cares food drive, and poinsettias for seniors at Christmas at the Welland hospital.”
When not involved with one of the many Kinsmen projects, Young is active with his church, Kirk on the Hill Presbyterian, on Haist Street. During the pandemic shutdowns, he has participated in Zoom broadcasts, providing scripture readings. Attending Kirk is something of a family tradition, he said, which started with his grandfather.
Looking forward as a Kinsmen, Young said, “This should be a promising year. I don't think we’ll be having any shutdowns, and everybody's chomping at the bit to get back to work.”
“Every dollar we raise goes back into the community,” he added proudly.