For immediate release
December 11, 2016
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Momentum Choir

Mendelt Hoekstra named 2016 YMCA Peace Medallion Recipient

Sunday, December 11th was a special day for Momentum Choir. Not only was it an opportunity for choir members to sing to friends and family at a private holiday celebration, it was also the day that Momentum Choir’s Executive and Artistic Director, Mendelt Hoekstra, was awarded the prestigious YMCA Peace Medallion.

Mendelt was notified he received the Peace Medallion in late November, after a regional nomination process. The Peace Medallion is an initiative originating from Peace Week, a time recognized by YMCA’s across Canada to acknowledge and celebrate people and organizations that promote peace and peace driven initiatives in their local community, across Canada and around the world.

Hoekstra was humbled and honoured by the experience. “To be considered for the YMCA Peace Medallion is a great honour and privilege. It was an unexpected blessing. Today we are celebrating, not only my efforts, but the efforts of Momentum Choir. Momentum started 10 years ago with hope and a dream, and thanks to our amazing team of musicians, volunteers, family and friends, we stand strong together. We will continue to advocate for people with disabilities and encourage them to break down the barriers they face every single day. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the YMCA of Niagara for this tremendous honour.”

In a presentation to choir members and their guests, Vita Gauley, a volunteer YMCA Board member with the YMCA of Niagara, quoted Lyndon Johnson in addressing the audience “Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.” She emphasized the importance of personal reflection upon peace and how we can achieve a more caring society and peaceful world.

“The YMCA is committed to building stronger communities by offering programs and services that nurture the development of kids, adults, families and seniors. We hold the belief that a strong sense of acceptance and belonging is necessary to succeed, and a foundational building block for a peaceful community.”

Gauley presented Hoekstra the Medallion along with Lauri Brady, Manager of Development, for his work with Momentum Choir, which exemplifies these values and beliefs. He was further acknowledged for his dedication and discipline in advocating for members of the community with disabilities and giving them the opportunity to showcase their ability and to feel accepted.

“By creating a sense of community in his choir, he helps develop self-confidence in the choir members which in turn leads to self-advocacy, and creates roots in our local community that can be difficult to plant when disabilities are present. The empowerment that comes through the creation of the skills around self-confidence and decision making helps choir members grow not only through their music but in their lives and we the spectators get to enjoy and be inspired by this work.”

Momentum Choir is celebrating its 10th year in operations. Its next public performance is scheduled for Saturday, February 11th where they will be performing collaboratively with McMaster University Choir. Event and ticket information will be posted on their website www.momentumchoir.ca. For more information contact info@momentumchoir.ca.

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