YWS 30th Anniversary Series
Over the past 30 weeks, we have embarked on a journey through the lenses of youth who have called Youth Without Shelter (YWS) home and their path to success. These powerful stories of resiliency, empowerment and achievements continue to guide us to provide support and care in working towards breaking the cycle of youth homelessness.
Young people often feel silenced by the labels, stereotypes, and assumptions made by society about homelessness and street life. Their voices can often become lost amid the statistics and stigma associated around “poverty” and “homelessness”.
Even though the series has concluded – let us not forget to listen, empower, and continue the fight to end homelessness.. one youth at a time.
Read our full series below:
Story 1 – Rayshell: The race is not for the swift but for those who endure to the end.
Story 2 – Melony: They became my best friends, helped me with anything I needed.
Story 3 – Sean: I was 16 years old, scared and full of anger. I never felt so alone.
Story 4 – Dammy: It is not easy to be on your own, not easy to be a man.
Story 5 – Art: I knew my father was a troubled man. He would beat me up for silly reasons.
Story 6 – Stephanie: I am more determined to reach my goals and also more confident in myself that I will get to brighter days.
Story 7 – Siobhan: Life is like a coin, you can spend it however you want but you can only spend it once.
Story 8 – John: My mission is to help others create an impact and leave a legacy that inspires generations to come.
Story 9 – Georgiette: Loneliness encouraged me to build confidence, being neglected showed me how to love.
Story 10 – He “You helped me when I needed help and became my family when I had no family.”
Story 11 – Jay: “For the first time his feelings were being respected.”
Story 12 – Mike “You’ve given me hope.”
Story 13 – Tom*: Wanting a place to call his own, he camped out in parks.
Story 14 – Winona: No one had any idea where I worked that I was homeless.
Story 15 – Matt: Struggling with drug and alcohol problems and dealing with the recent loss of my mother. I was on a path of self-destruction.
Story 16 – Angelina: We can change and fix ourselves.
Story 17 – Misery: I just want to be the one that’s chosen.
Story 18 – Derek: If you believe you can do something, you can!
Story 19 – Tracey & Nichole: I was able to accomplish more than what I believed I could.
Story 20 – Thank you
Story 21 – Marianne: You never judged me.
Story 22 – George: I’ve found the resources I need to be able to focus on finishing school.
Story 23 – Nancy: Many small donations can make a difference.
Story 24 – Liceie: Giving back
Story 25 – Anonymous
Story 26 – “Listen”
Story 27 – Robert
Story 28 – John R: We must believe in our youth
Story 29 – R: I was scared and did not know anyone to help me feel better
YWS 30th anniversary series: R
My name is R. I have been residing at Youth Without Shelter for 3 months. Prior to arriving, I was scared and did not know anyone to help me feel better. Regardless of these feelings I had no choice to become a resident of Youth Without Shelter.
The first friend I made at YWS turned out to be my room mate. She also arrived the same day as me and was so friendly I felt better about my situation. The staff helped me feel at ease through their counselling support. Frontline staff were always available to listen to me and guide me through family problems and relationships.
I know I can count on them to give me all available options so that I can make informed decisions about my future. Being at YWS I always feel safe as staff have continued to show me how responsible and careful they are about the safety of residents. Case managers have been very supportive in helping me register for school; transfer to work closer to the shelter as well as providing me with future housing options.
It is hard to believe how my life has changed and improved for the better in such a short amount of time. I entered YWS not knowing what to expect and am now enrolled in school and employed. I am currently in grade 12 and am attending an adult education school. Next year I am striving to be in a college Child and Youth Care Worker Program. My dream job is to help youth and make a difference in their lives the same way staff at YWS have helped me.
It’s been a good experience living at YWS and I will always be grateful that I became part of it. Thank you to YWS for providing me with a home away from home.
As shared by R. at YWS’s Annual General Meeting, September 2014
YWS 30th anniversary series: John R
John Roberts is living proof that hard luck stories can have happy endings.
The St. John’s, Newfoundland contractor sponsors children’s hockey and soccer leagues, is a member of the business establishment and is the father of three children.
He is also a former street kid. At 16, he was kicked out of the house. “You ever see the movie, Rebel Without A Cause? That was me.” Roberts, 41 says with a laugh during an interview. The teenager hitchhiked to Toronto in 1986 and was found by police sleeping under a bridge on Keele Street. That was his lucky day. They took him to the newly opened Youth Without Shelter in Etobicoke. He landed a job and stayed at the shelter until he’d saved enough to rent a little place of his own.
Ultimately, he returned to his hometown and opened his business, John The Trimmer, which does more than $1 million worth of business a year building and renovating houses.
“We must believe in our youth”., says Roberts, who brought his family to Ontario this past summer on a vacation and went back to Youth Without Shelter to express his gratitude – even if the individuals he knew no longer worked there.
“I am a businessman who can help others and I owe it to the.”, he says of the shelter staff who had given him so much support. “People say to me that I am self-made. I say, No a lot of people helped me along the way.”
Credit: Trish Crawford, Toronto Star (Living Section), December 22, 2007
Update note: in 2011 John Robert’s flew to Toronto, and attended YWS’s 25th anniversary recognition event. He spoke passionately about his experiences with homelessness and inspired the youth present with possibilities.
YWS 30th anniversary series: Robert
Robert’s mother was a sex trade worker and struggled with a crack addiction. He had never known his father. At eight years of age Robert ran away with his sister. Children’s Aid stepped in to provide assistance. Robert has been on his own since he left his adoptive parents home at 16. Independence has been Robert’s goal. He has always had work and maintained his own housing. A summer flash flood washed him out of his rental apartment. Subsequently his apartment was beyond repair. With no savings and no alternatives he landed at Youth Without Shelter (YWS) in the emergency residence. Robert was working full-time in the restaurant industry. As part of his YWS case plan the YWS Employment Specialist worked with Robert to explore opportunities for advancement into a restaurant management role. At the same time the YWS Housing Coordinator connected Robert with supportive youth housing where he can save some money for the future while being employed. At YWS Robert took the next essential steps to living independently and focused on getting his life back in order.