At Youth Without Shelter, we believe everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Young people who are homeless (ages 13-24) make up approximately 20% of the homeless population in Canada (Gaetz et al., 2014). We continuously strive to make our house a home and breakdown barriers youth face such as on going housing instability, unemployment, and access to education. For youth who experience homelessness, “home” could mean a place with a warm meal or simply having a place to sleep at night.
We asked our youth in our “House” and our Board of Directors “What does home mean to you?” Here’s what they had to say:
Tell us how you would finish the Hashtag. Tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We want to know where home is for you.
Youth Without Shelter (YWS ) celebrates 30th anniversary with 30 Stories of youth empowerment
Youth Without Shelter’s (YWS ) 30th year of empowering youth with the skills and resources to transition to independent living.
Starting today and over the next 30 weeks YWS will be sharing with you on our website blog 30 stories for 30 years, stories of youth who have called YWS their home.
“The race is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end.” It is not about how fast you can to get to the finish line in life, it is about getting there at some point in the future. What if you did not have a race? What if there seemed to be no way out? What if it felt so dark I could not see where to start?
I am proud to say, I always have had a race, a dream, a pathway to success! I do not know how that journey would have begun but at least I knew some day I would full-fill that dream.
But today I am delighted to talk about how my race began. To start off I could say it was a struggle staying at home. I had to fight to go to school everyday. Not to mention the thought of going home was unbearable. All through the day all I could think about in class was not going home. It was so hard to get reading assignments and schoolwork done. I would often go to the library to study after school but it was just for a couple of hours because I would have to make my way back home as the streets got too dark. I would also try to sleep as soon as I got home from school so that I could stay up in the nights when it was quiet. But trying to sleep was also a challenge because the environment was very noisy. I barely passed the first semester (a pre-college prep program to help me get into my practical nursing program).
In the second semester I decided I wasn’t going to fail because I needed the grades to get into my program. So I was talking to a friend about my situation and she referred me to a social worker. This social worker introduced me to the Stay in School Program, where she brought me to complete the application. I breathed a sigh of relief. Better days are coming. But you know in life you got to have patience so that took a little while due to the fact that I was on a waiting list for the Stay in School Program. I humbly waited at school. I tried to connect with students that I noticed were more focused. I eventually made friends with this girl who was really good on the materials in class. We then started to get closer, whereas after class we would stay back and review the materials. After getting to know her more she offered I could stay with her until we were done with this semester. That was like hearing “It’s dinner time for me.” She offered me a nice bed to sleep on and a quiet environment. Each day we attended school together, we kept focused, we studied our notes headed to and from school on the bus. This living situation helped me greatly so my marks started to improve.
While staying at her house for about one and a half months I got a call from YWS. I was so happy…..I moved into the Stay in School Program. I was welcomed by staff with a nice bed, clean sheets and other items that I needed. I felt comfortable and at home. This program has had a tremendous impact on my school life whereas I stayed focused and continued studying. At the end of the semester I can proudly say I got accepted into the practical nursing program. This is the program I always wanted to go into. When I was younger everyone around me would call me nurse. I tend to be caring, loving and considerate. I was offered a part-time job to look after an elderly individual. It was always a pleasure to go there to make her life happy, clean and comfortable.
I say all of this to explain that the opportunity to get into the nursing program would not have been possible if I did not have the help of Youth Without Shelter.
On behalf of all the Stay in School Program residents I would like to express our great gratitude to each and every one of you for making our races a reality.
Thank you for putting the good in good morning as we had breakfast together on Wednesday, November 16th. Through the energy of the YWS Price is Right game players and the Lakeview Lodge #272 IO.O.F challenge donation a selection of essential food and household items have been funded for the 53 youth residing at YWS. Were you surprised to learn that to nourish 53 youth for one week, YWS spends $240 on milk; $84 on juice; and $168 on cereal? To see how you can share the warmth this holiday season at YWS click here for our priority wish list.
To the chefs of breakfast sponsor, Woodbine Entertainment Group we all appreciated such a delicious and energizing start to the morning. Thank you to the “A home for the holidays” breakfast sponsors, our one of a kind emcee and friend Ennis Esmer, and the Mentor College student volunteers for working with us to create awareness of the challenges youth face with homelessness in our community today.
For the morning’s photo highlights from Social Image click here.
‘I first walked up the ramp to the front doors of YWS 20 years ago. I was 16 years old, scared, and full of anger. I never felt so alone. I buzzed the front door intercom fearing the unknown. I heard the kindest most calming voice say: “Welcome to YWS! How may we help you?” I will never forget those words. That day was the beginning to the rest of my life.” (Sean, past YWS Resident)
A new YWS film with a focus on “Where are they now.”