Leejay Levene was just 18 years old when he died during routine dental surgery in 2007. This young man from Waterloo, Ontario, was preparing to begin his first year at the University of Toronto that September, where he planned to study architecture.
Since his death, Leejay’s family has created a unique way to honour their son and brother, while making sure that his life continues to have a positive impact on his community. Each year, the family donates the use of Leejay’s art work to a local non-profit organization. The work is then reproduced in a calendar, and proceeds from sales of the calendar benefit the non-profit organization. These organizations have included Meals on Wheels, THEMUSEUM, Grand River Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, and others.
Kitchener Public Library is pleased to have been chosen by the Levene family as the 2016 beneficiaries. Proceeds from the Leejay Levene 2016 calendar will be used to create a Teen Tech Livingroom at Central Library – new furniture and technology that will create a fun, creative space where teens can create, discover, learn, socialize, and share.
With the help of Leejay’s mom Shirley, his father Ron, and his brothers Elli and Casey, we’ve been working on the calendar for several months. It’s a 16-month calendar that runs from September 2015 to December 2016, making it perfect for planning the 2015/16 school year. And at just $10, it makes a perfect end-of-year gift for teachers!
Each month features a piece of Leejay’s artwork and highlights a Kitchener Public Library program, service, or collection. And each month features a national or local celebrity talking about Leejay’s legacy, his work, or the importance of libraries.
Our contributors include: Governor General David Johnston, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, CBC’s Heather Hiscox, Dr. Marla Shapiro, authors Lawrence Hill, Charlotte Gray, Emma Donoghue, Tasneem Jamal, Allan Mallory, and Veronica Ross, Canada’s favourite gardener Mark Cullen, Top Chef runner-up Terry Salmond, artist Lin Souliere, TV producer David Kerr, Professor Paul Socken, and Leejay’s former English teacher, Steve Leslie. We want to thank these people for their kind and thoughtful words, and for quickly pitching in to make our calendar meaningful and special. Sadly, Mr. Leslie passed away before the calendar was complete.
We’d also like to thank our calendar sponsors for their generous support: Berkeley Garage Doors & Repairs, The Walper Hotel, BJ Photo, Intent, Queen Street Yoga, Staebler Insurance, the Waterloo Region Museum, Matter of Taste Coffee Bar, Mother’s Pizza, Little Mushroom Catering, THEMUSEUM, Waterloo Regional Police, Element Hair, Three Kretans, Superior Memorials, Dr. Martin Richmond (optometrist), and M & T Printing Group.
In addition to the Leejay Levene Calendar, there is an exhibit of Leejay’s work in the Art Gallery at Central Library throughout the month of May. Feel free to drop in any time during open library hours. Proceeds from sales of his work will also benefit Kitchener Public Library.
Please join us on Thursday, May 7 as we celebrate Leejay’s life and legacy. If you can’t join us, please be sure to pick up a calendar or two – they will be available at every Kitchener Public Library location, and at several retail outlets. Thank you for your support!