By Jennifer Bowman
It was a big night for a man who prefers to do things quietly and unnoticed.
But Wayne Dewe couldn’t avoid the spotlight Thursday night when he was awarded the J.J. Kelso Award at the Hastings Children’s Aid annual meeting. About 80 people applauded the well-known owner of Dewe’s Independent Grocer in Belleville for his quiet involvement in enhancing many children’s lives.
“I like to do things behind the scenes,” said Wayne Dewe.
Darcey French, HCAS Board member and Vice-principal of St. Michael’s Catholic School said Dewe has touched many lives without the recipients even knowing it.
“For youth at risk, Wayne has touched their lives without them, or actually many of you, knowing it,” said French.
Each year the Hastings CAS presents the award to a person or organization in the community for their outstanding contributions to child welfare in the Belleville area. This year it was Dewe.
“It is impossible to go to a large fundraiser in Quinte and not see a donation from Wayne, and usually a big one,” said French.
Dewe is involved in many charitable organizations including the Strong Kids Campaign through the YMCA, the Food for Learning campaign that provides breakfast at schools, the hospice gala, and other. His store often plays a part in his services whether children use it to fundraise or he provides a job for a struggling youth.
When his father died, Dewe’s mother became a foster parent at the age of 53. Dewe saw 26 foster children pass through the house.
“There was one thing in the Dewe house,” said Dewe. “If you can help someone that’s in need of help, just one person, just one, please do it, son.”
French presented Dewe with the award.
“Wayne has a special spot for children, and especially those at risk,” said French.
Dewe has provided many youth with a second chance by providing them with a job at his store. Some of them still work there.
“Wayne is always to give a kid a chance,” said French.
Dewe said he can’t believe how many people he’s been able to help, particularly through the breakfast program. His reason is simple.
“I really want to be able to help,” he said.