“I’m still a grassroots community guy. I still have a passion to help in any way I can, whether it’s Pomquet or Bangladesh.”
Meet Clarence Deyoung.
Clarence was a middle child, the seventh of 13 children born to Annie and Arthur Deyoung. Like most families of that era, the Deyoungs were self-sufficient because they had to be. They had a small farm with livestock and large gardens. Everybody had chores to do before and after school. “Did we growl and complain? Probably. But it helped shape us and developed character,” says Clarence. He vividly remembers seeing ten or more lunch cans lined up by the door each morning.
His early years of schooling were in Pomquet and he attended Antigonish East High School. “I liked grade eleven so much I did it two years in a row,” he quips.
In 1969, there was a lot of economic activity at the Strait of Canso with the paper mill and the Gulf Oil Refinery. The summer after completing grade eleven, Clarence headed to Point Tupper to tie steel. In what remains a mystery to this day, Clarence was approached one evening at home by a recruiter from the DeVry Institute to take a computer technology program. A 17 year old boy from Pomquet, who had only been as far as Halifax a few times, headed “down the road” to Toronto.
He was understandably homesick, but the kindness and generosity of his billets, Iva and Jim Riggs, got him over the hump. The program ran two years straight without any breaks. During this time, he had five different part time jobs to pay for his room, board and schooling. His upbringing of hard work had prepared him well.
He finished his program on a Friday and started work the following Monday with a company called Miscoe. The work consisted mostly of repairs to computer monitors and printers. Ten years later he received an offer from the owners to buy the business. He and his wife, Mary Ann, wondered how they could possibly finance a business with their modest resources. At the time they had two young children. Clarence did his due diligence, travelling to the U.S. to try and ascertain where the industry was heading. After several rejections, he found one bank that believed in him. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Clarence’s timing could not have been better. The business took off, and at one time his company had locations in 34 cities and towns across Canada.
In 1987 he was approached by Apple Computers, who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Two years later he called it a day and decided that he would devote the rest of his life to volunteering.
Volunteering was in his DNA, and he credits his mother for instilling this in all of his siblings as well. In the book “Baker’s Dozen” that documents the Deyoung family, he describes his mother with these words and phrases: “Unselfish, giving, kind, compassionate, caring, wonderful heart, ethical, strong moral values, lots of goodness, witty and honest; all qualities which she passed on to us siblings, not by sitting us down at the table and teaching us, but by her actions.”
During the early 80’s, Murray Dryden (father of Ken and Dave) gave a presentation at Clarence’s daughter’s school. He was the founder of “Sleeping Children around The World” (SCAW). When Clarence retired, he tracked down Mr. Dryden. He was blown away by the simplicity of the initiative. SCAW provides bed kits to children, evenly distributed between boys and girls of any religion, focusing on those with the greatest need. These children are typically located in underdeveloped and developing countries. Every dollar raised goes to the bed kits … “the 100% gift” (www.scaw.org ).
To this day, Clarence remains 100% committed to his charitable work. Over the years , whether it was in Toronto or Hammonds Plains, he gave of his time to St. Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus and Feed Nova Scotia to name but a few. He still travels with SCAW regularly and never tires of seeing the smiles on the face of the children when they receive their bed kits.
In 2010, Clarence and Mary Ann decided that it was time to come “full circle” and they moved back home to Pomquet. They are both heavily involved in their community.
“I have been very fortunate. I got some breaks along the way and my timing was perfect. I was lucky to grow up in Pomquet with two exceptional parents as role models.”
Annie and Arthur would be very proud of a son who has given so much to so many.