By Brock Ormond 
BELLEVILLE – There were smiles all around the Quinte Children’s Foundation  offices following another successful Guardian Angel Gala event, held this past Saturday night.
And no smile was bigger than that of the foundation’s executive director, Connie Reid.
This year’s event, in the foundation’s 25th-anniversary year, was everything she hoped it would be and more, Reid said.
“It was record-breaking. We were really pleased with the results,” she added.
The event saw $130,000 raised to support the programs and services of the foundation , the charitable arm of the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society . The money raised at the gala will be distributed among all programs, Reid said.
The gala, held at the Sears Atrium, had an attendance of 320, exceeded the foundation’s goal. Reid said she is impressed with the increase in attendance and exposure in the 15 years it has been held.
“The event has really blossomed over the years. The first year, we had maybe 100 people, and now it’s over 300 people. It’s getting known to be the event to go to.”
This year’s recipients of the foundation’s Guardian Angel Awards  were former mayor of Quinte West John Williams  and his wife Heather, a registered dietician. When Reid was asked about her reaction to the Williamses being honoured, her voice cracked a little with emotion as she said she was grateful for their support of the community – and of her – for many years.
“I’ve known Heather and John Williams ever since I was a little girl. It was extra special for me, because I’ve had a personal connection with them – and in fact, I was one of the youth that they helped. I started working with the Williamses when I was 16 (at) the Williams Hotels . My father had passed away when I was 15, so they truly helped me when I was growing up. I wouldn’t be the executive director of the children’s foundation without their help over the years,” she said.
“It was truly special.”
The foundation helps children in the community through many programs and services. Reid mentioned one in particular.
“One of our most popular programs that we are known for is our Playing for Keeps . That’s a program where we help children to register for a sport or an activity that is non-sport – for example, music lessons … it’s for families that are just going through a difficult time and don’t have the funds to help their kids.”
Reid also mentioned the Reach for Success Bursary program as something the foundation would like to expand on. The bursaries helps young people in the care of the children’s aid society further their education. Fifty bursaries were given out to students last year.
“We feel like education is key to breaking the cycle of child abuse, so we would like to expand on that,” Reid said.
The Quinte Children’s Foundation is now looking forward to its next events, which include McHappy Day  on May 4 and Play a Round for the Kids 12th Annual Golf Tournament  on May 26 presented by Sun Life Financial. You can find more information on the foundation, its programs and services and upcoming events at thechildrensfoundation.ca .