Lavaniya - The Lorna Rosenstein Youth Volunteer Leadership Award 2021

I was happy to be paired with someone who shared the same experiences.

Lavaniya was only 14 when her father died of cancer.

“It’s a horrible thing to go through. It never gets easy.”

Lavaniya’s father believed in her and encouraged her to do good in the world. She took this to heart and applied herself to creating and participating in numerous volunteer activities within several communities. Her commitment and leadership made her the first recipient of the Lorna Rosenstein Youth Volunteer Leadership Award from Gilda’s Toronto.

Lavaniya volunteered over 1,000 hours in her high school and community – she taught adults with disabilities to read, planned online events for her classmates during the pandemic, and organized a summer fair in the Tamil community, to name only a few of her achievements. The Lorna Rosenstein Youth Volunteer Leadership Award helped pay for her York University program in communications.

The award also gave Lavaniya the support of a mentor, Chef Amy Symington, MSc., Gilda’s Toronto’s own Culinary Nutrition Program Coordinator and cancer nutrition expert. Amy supported Lavaniya by answering nutrition questions and sharing her experience of losing a parent to cancer.

“She felt comfortable sharing things with me that she didn’t share with friends and family.
It is isolating to experience the death of a loved one at her age,”
explained Chef Amy.

The loss of a parent can deeply impact the mental health of a teen who is still developing emotionally and physically. Interventions such as Gilda’s Toronto support groups can lessen the likelihood of depression in young adulthood and improve a young person’s mental health and quality of life. 

“[Lavaniya] was happy to be paired with someone who shared the same experiences” through the mentee/mentor relationship. “Amy told me things that worked for her, and I was able to try them out myself.”

The Lorna Rosenstein Youth Volunteer Leadership Award and Legacy Fund were created to honour one of the founders of Gilda’s Toronto. Lorna was committed to providing people impacted by cancer with the psychosocial support they needed. She died of cancer two years ago, but her vision lives on every day in the members who receive cancer support at Gilda’s Toronto.

Please help support Gilda’s Toronto members by donating to the Lorna Rosenstein Legacy Fund today. You will also help young leaders like Lavaniya to realize their dreams and achieve beyond their cancer experience.

Even better, your gift will be doubled. When you support the Lorna Rosenstein Legacy fund on or before May 31, 2022, your donation will be matched up to $25,000 by Freedom International Brokerage Co.!

Double your impact today, and you can help a young person achieve a brighter tomorrow.

Do you know someone who should apply for the Lorna Rosenstein Youth Volunteer Leadership Award? Click here for the application form. The deadline is May 18!