The beloved organization will finally have a new, carbon neutral-building that will offer its many community services under one roof

In 1954, a unique boys’ club was founded by Sid Stevens and the late Earl de la Peralle (aged 13 and 9 respectively) in the Park Extension neighbourhood around Clarke Street. The initial objective was to organize sports teams. To pay for their jerseys; Sid, Earl and their fellow members produced a handwritten ‘newspaper’ with information about the local community and called it The Clark Street Sun. With only two copies produced, the boys would go door-to-door and rent the paper for 2 cents. Their neighbours appreciated the boys’ initiative and they soon had enough money to buy basketball t-shirts for their fledgling Sun Youth Hornets team.

Earl de la Peralle (deceased) and Sid Stevens

Co-Founders Earl de la Peralle (deceased) and Sid Stevens

Their first clubhouse was in a shed behind a tailor’s shop, followed by a city-owned chalet on Park Avenue at Mont Royal. Sun Youth then enjoyed a stable home at Baron Byng High School for thirty-eight years. In 2018 the CSDM took back the school, and since then Sun Youth has been in temporary quarters on Aveune du Parc and other satellite locations. It was clear that the organization would need a new home where all of the community services could be housed under one roof.

Sun Youth grew by providing a variety of services to their neighbours in less affluent households, including assistance for fire victims. After receiving a call about a fire in progress, Sid and Earl would commandeer a city bus and tell the driver to go to the building on fire, thus providing a warm shelter for the people who had just lost their homes. The city eventually offered to rent two busses so that their regular vehicles would no longer be taken over.

As adults, both Sid and Earl had day jobs and devoted their free time to Sun Youth. Eventually, Earl agreed work full time for Sun Youth, and Sid followed soon after.

To this day, the sports programs are an important part of the organization. There are spaces for the student athletes to do their school homework before participating in football, basketball or hockey practice.  During the campaign’s launch press conference, Dimitri Manolopoulos recounted his Sun Youth experience. “I started playing football for Sun Youth thirty-seven years ago with Bob Mironovich and Earl de la Peralle as my coaches. I was interested in football, but for school…not so much. When I graduated from high school, I told Earl that instead of continuing my education at a CEGEP, I would get a job. Earl said, ‘I have a job for you’. He put me to work in a large warehouse, where for two months I opened boxes and catalogued their contents. After two months of this – I put in my CEGEP application.” Dimitri went on to earn a university degree and an MBA in addition to several professional accreditations. He is now a Senior Executive at National Bank, but still makes time to coach the Sun Youth Hornets Midget AAA football team. “I’m proud that my son Nicholas went through our football program and is now on our Wall of Fame with me. Many of our athletes earn scholarships for a secondary education. Our sports programs help our athletes to build character that will help them in their adult lives.”

Claude Mongeau and Lucy Riddell

Capital Campaign Co-Chairs Claude Mongeau and Lucy Riddell

The community services offered by Sun Youth are numerous, and always relate to the needs of the surrounding community.  Emergency food and clothing services, financial assistance for heating costs, assistance for fire victims, crime prevention, summer bike patrol for students, assistance for medications. Seniors are Included in the vulnerable populations served by Sun Youth.

In one form or more, Sun Youth helps more than 30,000 people and less fortunate families every year. The organization’s ability to provide those services was in danger as they occupied different locations; and not one with a gymnasium that is so important for the athletic programs. Sun Youth assisted 19,000 people in December alone. In the first two months of 2023, 10,000 people have already visited the food bank. The need is acute and Sun Youth helps the growing numbers of less fortunate Montrealers.

Anthony De Francesco, Joshua Britton-Bailey and Coach Dimitri Manolopoulos    

Former Hornets coach Anthony De Francesco, scholarship recipient Joshua Britton-Bailey and Coach Dimitri Manolopoulos

To ensure the ongoing viability of Sun Youth and the services it provides, the Board made the decision to purchase a site, and the organization purchased a building across from Jarry Park on boul. St-Laurent. Executive Director Johanne Saltarelli stated; “Since 2019 our services have been scattered across the city. This situation has confirmed the importance of this major project, which will provide us a home for the next generations, ensure the sustainability of Sun Youth and hopefully serve as an environmental model for community organizations in the future.”

There is a Metro stop nearby and frequent bus service for the Sun Youth clientele. The building will be demolished to make way for a new carbon neutral structure that will enable Sun Youth to provide its community and sports activities under one roof. A series of thermal pumps will provide heat during the winter and cool air in the summer. The food bank will be set up like a regular grocery store enabling less fortunate Montrealers to ‘shop’ with dignity.

Sun Youth

A community kitchen

A talented group of fundraising volunteers has been assembled and is being led by Campaign Director Linda Bell. She has extensive not-for-profit fundraising experience and is well-known in Montreal’s philanthropic community. The professionals have enlisted the support of community leaders who volunteer their time to contact potential private, corporate and family office donors.

Co-Chairs for this first-ever capital campaign are Lucy Riddell, Chair of the R. Howard Webster Foundation and Claude Mongeau, retired CEO of CN. Lucy and Claude have a strong affinity and long-standing relationship with Sun Youth. Through their respective networks; they have contributed greatly to the current success of the campaign, which has already raised $9.8 million, which is 70% of the $14million objective. The total cost of the project is budgeted at $31.5 million. Government funding is $11 million, and the Sun Youth Foundation is contributing $6.5 million.

Several Montreal celebrities have agreed to be spokespeople for the campaign, including former Montreal Alouettes quarterback and Offence Coach Anthony Calvillo, retired CHOM broadcaster Terry DiMonte, JUNO Award winning jazz singer Kim Richardson, sports broadcaster Meeker Guerrier and Tanya Kontoyanni, a well known Quebecoise actress.

Sun Youth

Sun Youth sports teams will have a gymnasium, training facilities and homework spaces all under one roof

During the launch event, Anthony Calvillo said that he grew up in a tough neighbourhood with his mom supporting him and his three siblings. He added that the positive influence his coaches helped him to be a better person; that their influence transcended the football field in the same way that the Sun Youth coaches provide guidance to the youth enrolled in the sports programs.

Meeker Guerrier noted that the bilingual services offered by Sun Youth reflect the linguistic reality of Montreal.

Many Montreal businesses and family foundations have already made contributions, but there is still work to be done to raise the remaining $4.1 million community portion of the total budget. I invite you to help the legacy of Sid Stevens and Earl de la Peralle to flourish as Sun Youth continues to help less fortunate families, their children, potentially at-risk youth and vulnerable seniors. The staff and management at Sun Youth do the heavy lifting day-in and day-out. All we have to do is make a contribution. Wouldn’t you like drive by the new building and say; “I helped Sun Youth to finance that building!”

Readers can make an online donation on the website: or by contacting Campaign Director Linda Bell at [email protected].

Volunteers Lisa-Melanie Kaluza Levy and her son Zachary

Lisa-Melanie Kaluza Levy and he son Zachary

Lisa-Melanie Kaluza Levy and he son Zachary are long-time Sun Youth volunteers

Zachary will be making a presentation on March 20th to the deciding committee at his high school, Royal West Academy to hold a yellow t-shirt free dress day to raise money for the new Sun Youth building.

He will explain his long-time involvement as a volunteer at Sun Youth, his many years as a Hornet in football as center then hockey development as a goalie, the importance of the new community center, the importance of sports and recreation to mental health and resilience, and how he has chosen this as his bar mitzvah project to help raise funds and raise awareness to help his mother Lisa-Melanie in her role as an ambassador for the campaign.

Zachary will ask for a yellow dress or accessory day to raise funds, during the week of mental health awareness (May 1st-7th). His request will be for May 3rd for maximum student attendance in the middle of the week. Hopefully a few other schools will also get on board!