(Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)
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The newly-formed Kahnawake Business Contribution Foundation (KBCF) donated $20,000 to Step By Step Child and Family Center so that the daycare could close for four days during the holidays, and give the staff a much-needed break.
Kyle Delisle, the executive director of KBCF, said that the foundation is targeting youth from age groups from zero to four all of the way up to 18 to 24.
Delisle explained that he contacted the executive director of Step By Step, Natalie Beauvais, to inquire about some of the daycare’s needs.
“Especially during the pandemic – the staff really needed a break during the holidays, but they couldn’t because it would have cost the daycare roughly $5,000 a day in order to close,” said Delisle.
The money was donated by the foundation’s two founders, Lionel Deer Jr. and Kanentiio Ross, who are part of the tobacco industry.
“They are providing all the funding to the foundation, and they hired me to be the executive director of the foundation based on my experience as a former chief executive officer of Tewatohnhi’saktha (Kahnawake’s Economic Development Commission),” Delisle told The Eastern Door.
The three men have been working on getting KBCF up and running since September 2020.
And even though Delisle has the qualifications to run the not-for-profit organization, it is his vision and goal for the youth in the community that Junior and Ross were excited about.
“They realized that they have been successful in the tobacco industry and that it is built on the collective rights of the community, and they want to give back to the community,” said Delisle.
Beauvais said that Delisle’s vision really resonated with her and that she was very excited about the work the foundation wants to do.
“Getting this donation is a great relief, we are beyond happy,” she said.
The foundation is also helping to ensure that families that have children remote learning from home and have Internet access.
He said he was made aware of the issues when Robin Delaronde (executive director of the Kahnawake Education Center) appeared on the Kahnawake 911 daily briefing live-streamed on Facebook, right before kids were heading back to school last fall.
“So, I am working with the Kahnawake Education Center, and we are helping by trying to ensure that about 10 families have Internet access,” said Delisle.
Delisle, along with Beauvais, said that they are working on other ideas to support Kahnawake families.
“We don’t want this just to be a tobacco industry initiative. We want it to be open to all the businesses in the community to contribute in any way that they can,” said Junior at the cheque presentation this week.
The foundation also started another initiative a couple of weeks ago that home-delivers breakfast and lunches to various families in the community. The meals can be delivered at the schools as well if the children are on-site learning.
The executive director said that they got a list from the schools and started calling families to see who was interested.
Virginia Standup is preparing the meals at cost, according to Delisle.
“If there is a family out there that have children and could benefit from this meal service – we are here to support all Kahnawake families regardless of their situation, just contact us,” said Delisle.
Eventually, he said that if they can raise the funds – the foundation would like to provide free daycare for everyone in the community.
“There has got to be a very big change in Kahnawake for the future. There needs to be a big change, so by helping our youth with the programs we are doing, it’s going to benefit the community in the long run,” said Ross.
Delisle also contacted Angie Marquis, who is part of Tewatohnhi’saktha’s Workforce Development, because KBCF is looking to provide additional funding to their summer student program so that they can maximize the number of people that gain work experience.
“I have spoken to others in the tobacco industry, and they are looking to possibly contribute to the foundation in the future,” said Delisle.