Agency Director Trades Pounds for Cash

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Oliver Clark

The future of The Deck youth center in Milton, Ontario, depends on Director Oliver Clarke’s ability to resist the chocolate treats at the center’s snack bar.

Clarke wants to raise $64,000 for The Deck’s general fund and staff salaries. His fund-raising plan: Shed 80 pounds by June 30.

A youth suggested the weight-loss plan in response to Clarke’s admonitions to stop smoking. The teen quipped that he’d stop smoking if Clarke lost some of his 288 pounds, and the deal was struck in July.

The 5-foot-10-inch Clarke dubs his venture 80/80/800, because he hopes to find 80 people and corporations who will sponsor him for $10 a pound, for a total of $800 per sponsor if he achieves his weight-loss goal. He hopes to recruit more backers via word-of-mouth and at a dessert soiree and auction fundraiser. He will be watching those desserts closely.

The Deck offers a drop-in program to provide a fun and safe place for youth to hang out in Milton, about 35 miles southwest of Toronto. It also provides volunteer mentors.

Clarke said the program has had trouble obtaining funds for salaries. In addition to Clarke’s full-time position, there are three part-time staffers, one of whom is unpaid, and one summer student. Clarke said he wants to raise enough money to pay the part-time volunteer, who works 20 hours a week.

Pur Health and Fitness has donated a gym membership and a personal trainer, while NRG Fuel Station has contributed such supplies as vitamin supplements and protein powder.

Clarke said he has lost more than 30 pounds, mostly by cutting down on fatty foods and exercising three times a week. “It’s a lifestyle change,” he said. “I’m not trying to lose 80 pounds and then gain it all back.”