On September 20, 2014 DM Youth celebrated 10 years of uniting Hindu Youth in the Devi Mandir and the Hindu Community at large. Below is the keynote address presented by Chad Shew, one of the key organizing members of DM Youth
10 years. A lot can happen in ten years. A lot can change in ten years. Let’s all take a moment, each of us, and think about where we were ten years ago. Ten years ago I was a student in Grade 11. And ten years ago today, I had just found out about a new youth group. This youth group called themselves DM Youth, and they were based out of the Devi Mandir. Apparently the story goes that a bunch of youth realized one day, if Hindu youth could come together, there’d be no limit to what we could achieve. I must admit, they really were ambitious. Creating a new youth group from scratch is no easy task. In fact it takes tremendous dedication and an intense desire to bring people together.
Personally, I’m grateful that those youth planted that DM Youth seed. Over the last ten years we’ve seen DM Youth take roots and grow. And as it grew, friendships were made, lessons were learned, and memories created. Each of us here tonight has our own favourite memories of DM Youth. But for those of us who are fairly new to DM Youth, the memories are just beginning to be made. So allow me to take a few minutes to walk down us down memory lane.
The year is 2004. To put things in perspective this was some time ago, in fact: Gmail didn’t exist yet. Facebook didn’t exist yet. I know what you’re thinking, how on earth did we survive in this ancient time? Anyways, a new youth group launches on September 11 of that year (2004) with a huge gathering of Hindu youth at the Devi Mandir. The idea of creating a proud and vibrant community of Hindu youth is unveiled on that very day. Within two years, DM Youth successfully hosts a bowling night, as well as trips to the Toronto Zoo and the Canadian Museum of Hindu civilization. DM Youth then hosts a movie night showing Lagaan staring Amir Khan. In the process, DM Youth raises more than 600 lbs in food donations for the daily bread food bank. The online forum at DM Youth.com begins to grow, with dozens of posts going up daily. A year later, DM Youth hosts its first successful trip to Canada’s Wonderland, a first of many.
Enter 2007. Trying something completely new, DM Youth puts on a talent show: the first Desi Explosion. The show raises more than $2000 to support future scholarships and events. Later that year, is DM Youth’s 3rd Anniversary Dinner and Dance. At this event, the first DM Youth Leaders in the Community Scholarships are awarded, thanks in part to generous sponsor contributions. The next year would see DM Youth host its first Hindu youth workshop, which would then go on to spawn other seminars and debate sessions. In that same year, DM Youth took yet another major step, sponsoring an impoverished child from India, in partnership with Plan Canada.
Since then, DM Youth has hosted four bowling nights, two game nights, two sports days, two debates, three talent shows, 6 anniversaries, and many trips to wonderland. To date, $7250 in scholarships have been awarded, more than 1800 lbs of food donated, and more than $2000 dollars have been contributed to children in India. DM Youth has also adopted a park from the City of Pickering, and was recently recognized by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration for exceptional volunteer service.
Yes, a lot can happen in 10 years. So what now? We should be proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last ten years. But let’s not give up there. If we take the achievements of the last ten years, and use them as inspiration for the next ten years, truly there’s no limit to what we can achieve.