by Ann St. Arnaud
If only walls could talk…
Obviously they don’t but Sun Youth staff and volunteers have many stories to tell about life inside the walls of former Baron Byng High School.
Although this was the third home for Sun Youth, it was the only one I’ve ever known. January 5, 1998 was my second day as a full-time staff member of Sun Youth’s Emergency Services, when my boss, Sid Stevens, asked me to go help the receptionists; the phones were ringing off the hook! I didn’t go home for three days except to change clothes.
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The ice storm was the beginning of one of the most important operations for our organization. We worked 16 hours a day, slept in our offices, but luckily for Montrealers, we only lost power for 24 hours and were able to help thousands of families during this historic crisis.
One of the most outstanding stories happened on Helio Galego’s shift. A woman gave birth in the Baron Byng washrooms during a Christmas basket distribution!
“The woman started having contractions and said she was not feeling well,” Helio says. “Two of our employees trained in first aid stayed with her until the paramedics showed up.”
The woman ended up giving birth in the men’s washroom to a healthy baby boy. Rumour has it she named her child Sunny.
Life at Baron Byng was never just about work. Many of us grew up here; some found their lifetime companion working here. Nicolas remembers fondly of singing Minuit Chrétien (O Holy Night) in the empty staircases after the Christmas basket distribution.
Soula laughs out loud remembering the pranks Tommy used to play on the receptionists. Ernie’s proudest moment at Baron Byng was when, as a teen, he represented the Sun Youth Hornets in our Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament. Our low ceiling gym and the proximity of the court to the crowd made our gym an iconic one for many generations of basketball players.
For Alex, the time spent socializing with the other volunteer coaching staff after football games was great. David will miss practicing his skills at ball hockey in the hallways at the crack of dawn.
Phil and Frank will miss their lunch time martial art sessions. And those stairs kept us all in good shape! Undeniably, we will all be making new memories in the next few years. One of them will surely be: “Remember that mad rush to move to 6700 Parc Ave. so we could be ready to offer thousands of people food, toys and Holiday cheer.”
We hope that you will want to visit us in our temporary location and see for yourself the improvements we made in the way we deliver our services. There will always be room for volunteers and donors wherever we are housed.