The Windermere Valley Youth Centre Society is preparing for its second annual celebrity luncheon with special guest star Al Miller. The event raises funds for the Summit Youth Centre, an organization that supports local youth from all over the Columbia Valley.

The Summit Youth Centre is a drop-in centre for youth age 12 to 18 from the Valley, from Canal Flats, Spillimacheen. Any youth is welcome to walk through our doors membership is free, said president and board chair for the Windermere Valley Youth Centre Society Sherry Doerr.

The youth centre has been operating for 23 years and relies on donations to run the society, offering a variety of structured and unstructured activities for youth to take part in after school.

There’s very specific skills we try to pass along and there’s interests but the real work is truly with our staff and the interaction they have with the youth, said Ms. Doerr.

Ms. Doerr explained staff and the youth spend time doing activities together and forming a bond so the youth feel comfortable to speak with staff and ask questions or raise concerns they may have.

We don’t give out our own private opinions, but we are there to listen and give options and just support for whatever they need. We do not provide counselling but we do provide referral to counselling, said Ms. Doerr.

The Celebrity Luncheon is a major fundraiser for the society, and the idea came from a similar event held in a larger community but was adapted for the Columbia Valley.

Originally, it was from a larger centre about having tickets to have lunch with the mayor and this was more of a larger city, and it was an annual thing that people could look forward to. We decided that we wanted to do something broader in scope than that because there are so many people who make amazing contributions, said Ms. Doerr.

Instead of having a political focus the event recognizes community members as the luncheon celebrity, with the celebrity being someone who has donated their time to the community.

It’s something that we wanted to recognize people who made a huge difference to our community beyond the youth, including youth, but also beyond youth and there’s so many people to chose from.

We have an amazing community here, said Ms. Doerr.

Last year’s celebrity was Chief Cote of the Shuswap Band and this year Mr. Miller, who is a district of Invermere councillor was selected by the Windermere Valley Youth Centre Society board.

We had nominations brought to our board from our broad members, volunteers, and through a vote at the board level we had given ranking first, second, third. Al certainly came out on top, said Ms. Doerr.

Mr. Miller moved to the Valley in 1988 from Ontario and has since dedicated his time to many organizations and has been the chairman of the IBC, president of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and has served as president of the Columbia Valley Rockies Hockey Club. The celebrity luncheon not only recognizes all of Mr. Miller’s contributions to the community but also raises funds for the youth centre.

We run with love but we don’t run on love, said Ms. Doerr.

The event is a partnership with the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and will be held at the Lions Hall on April 23rd at noon. Tickets for the event are $35 per individual and are available through the Chamber of Commerce, Selkirk Cellular, Home Hardware and the Summit Youth Centre. Table purchases/sponsorships are available with recognition or donation receipt. Additionally, there will be a silent auction.