Melitta J. Cutright
OAK BROOK, Illinois, USA, June 1, 2009 – Father Chris Riley, founder of Youth Off The Streets, an organization for young people who are homeless, drug dependent and victims of abuse, is the recipient of the 2009 Lions Humanitarian Award.
Riley will be presented with this prestigious award at the 92nd Lions Clubs International Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on Friday, July 10. The Lions Humanitarian Award, the highest honor of the association, includes a US$200,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation for continuing humanitarian activities. Previous recipients include former U. S. President Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa.
“Father Chris Riley is an inspiration to all and a hero for disadvantaged youth,” said Albert Brandel, president of Lions Clubs International. “His efforts have made a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of individuals and communities.”
Riley trained as a teacher and served as a youth services worker, probation officer and caretaker before being ordained in 1982. He spent the early 1990s developing Youth Off The Streets by delivering meals to homeless youths in Sydney. In 1997 he opened Key College, an independent high school that encourages homeless youths to return to school. The charity’s efforts have expanded to include crisis care, refugee aid and drug and alcohol programs. In 2004, Riley raised $2 million in funds to establish an orphanage in Indonesia shortly after the tsunami.
Riley, who frequently advocates in the media for disadvantaged youth, hosts an afternoon weekly radio segment in Sydney. He was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 for his service to disadvantaged youth, and received the Human Rights Medal from the Australian Human Rights Commission. He continues to raise awareness and support for disadvantaged youth overseas by visiting countries emerging from conflict.
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.3 million members in more than 45,000 clubs in 205 countries and geographic areas. In addition to its efforts toward conquering blindness, the organization has made a strong commitment to community service and helping youth throughout the world. To learn more about Lions Clubs International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.