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Peel Children's Aid Society turns 100

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Peel Children's Aid Society hosted a birthday party last night in Mississauga to celebrate its milestone 100th birthday.

About 200 people turned out for a special reception to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first meeting of the organization's board of directors, held on April 23, 1912 in a Brampton church.

A century later, the many individuals and volunteers who continue to ensure children in Peel get the help and support they need during the toughest of times came together at the Glenerin Inn on The Collegeway to celebrate a century of success and look towards a positive future.

What began in 1891 as local journalist John Joseph Kelso's tireless efforts to bring to light the plight of abused and neglected children has grown into an organization that serves more than 8,000 families annually in the region.

“(The Peel CAS) was formed in 1912 as an essential service and still performs an essential service in the community,” said Tom Urbaniak, a University of Cape Breton professor who became the youngest person ever to serve on the board at 19.

Urbaniak has authored a book called A Constant Friend that details the history of the Peel CAS. It tells the story of the organization from its humble beginning through its ongoing struggle to meet the needs of youth today. “When it was formed, there were many children who were falling through the cracks and there was an inadequate social safety net,” he said reflecting on the 100-year history of the organization. “These challenges are still with us today.”

He noted the founding principles of the organization called for it to be more than a faceless bureaucracy running children through the system. The mission was to give children a stable environment when their own families were unable to provide the care they needed.

Members of the community stepped forward to provide assistance in the form of foster care and other community programs to give young people the chance to growth and become involved citizens. “There is a prevailing culture and value system where every child is cared for and no longer falls through the cracks,” he said.

The result of this commitment to caring for youth is positive stories like that of Peel Region resident Jessica Kelly, who who at age 6 found herself in need of foster care.

Last night (Monday), the 19-year-old shared her story of success and dreams of for a bright future with others. She told the gathering how being a ward of the Peel CAS allowed her to participate in sports programs, learn piano and go to camp with other children her age.

Finding the strength to achieve your goals and dreams during difficult times when you are put into foster care something the CAS helps you achieve, she said.

“It's a mindset and you have to use the opportunity you have been given to the best extent possible,” she said. Now approaching the end of her time with the Peel CAS, Kelly is looking to graduating from Bishop's University in Quebec and hopes to become an RCMP officer.

“The biggest thing I can do for the organization that has helped me so much is show success in my own life,” she said.

Visit www.peelcas.org to learn how to get involved with the Peel CAS.