Thank You

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who attended our first ever virtual Annual General Meeting on September 23rd. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our youth while welcoming new members to our Board of Directors.

A full video recording of the AGM is now available here to those who were not able to join us.

During this years AGM, although we were unable to come together in person, we heard from 2 of our youth, learnt more about our YWS programs and procedures during COVID-19, and finished off the night with a music video created by a past resident, dedicated to YWS and the Stay in School program.

We look forward to our 2020/21 fiscal year and know that with the continued support from our volunteers and donors that together, we will get through this. Each and every day we are faced with new challenges, but with a dedicated staff and Board team, we are committed to the youth we serve, and will continue to “strive for greatness” and do all that we can to help end youth homelessness, one youth at a time.

A message from our Director of Operations, Ben Omoregie, shared at the meeting:

Good evening everyone, my name is Ben Omoregie and I am the Director of Operations at YWS.

As we all know, the beginning of 2020 came with many uncertainties and challenges. In the shelter system, there was a need to get ahead of the pandemic and create a safe space for the most vulnerable population. The City of Toronto Shelter Support and Housing Administration (SSHA), in collaboration with Toronto Public Health (TPH) and Inner City Health, Associates (ICHA), provided daily directives to all shelter providers to help prevent the spread of COVID -19 in shelters.

The City of Toronto placed preventative measures to track and address community spread through the various cluster groups. Youth Without shelter was part of the North Etobicoke Cluster group. 

In March 2020, the YWS management team led by Steve Doherty met to implement a pandemic plan that would keep our shelter open as an essential service and address the health and safety of residents and Staff.  

We had non-front line staff working remotely from home to reduce the number of people within the facility at any given time. We stopped accepting new admissions, and we shut our doors to volunteers, including on-site counseling support. We continue to refer our youth to meet remotely with counselors to address their mental health and wellbeing. We stopped approving late nights, overnight, and weekend passes to mitigate the risk to our residents.

The biggest challenge came with the closure of schools and daycare centers, as staff with young children had to stay home to take care of their families. As a shelter that requires 24 -hours staffing and support, it became evident to our entire team that we may have to wear different hats to address the pandemic – we were determined to keep providing a safe, stable, healthy environment for the residents that we serve. So, despite knowing the risk of exposure, many of our dedicated staff worked multiple shifts in order to ensure we could continue meeting the needs of our youth, and we implemented vital Public health protocols in order to reassure everyone – staff, youth, and supporters – that safety is paramount at our shelter.

In April 2020, we received further communication from the City of Toronto due to changes in the number of daily infections and the increased cases in long term care facilities.   

  • YWS received directives from SSHA to reduce current bed capacity (53) by (20) to promote physical distancing within the shelter
  • YWS worked closely with the City of Toronto to access housing initiatives for youth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the support of our Housing and After-care team, we were able to secure housing for 20 clients to meet the capacity requirements
  • We eliminated the triple rooms and bunk beds. Bed spacing was 6 feet apart, with every youth assigned to single and double rooms.
  • The City of Toronto site Inspectors visited our site to ascertain if the facility. E.g., Bed spacing and office space met the physical distancing requirement. YWS complied.
  • Inner City Health Associates and Toronto public health through their “ Care Project’ conducted a Risk Stratification report of the shelter and the residents. The Report showed that YWS is a low-risk shelter, and we are already doing a great job of implementing recommended contact precautions.  
  • We continue to enforce hand washing and Social/physical distancing measures upon entry into the shelter.  
  • We received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the City of Toronto, Community Cluster groups, Corporate partners, and donors. We currently have a stockpile of PPE for Staff.

In all of this, the YWS family worked together as a unit to put safety first in everything we do. We continue to maintain a “one fight, one-team approach during this pandemic. It has been a long road, to say the least, for Staff and residents. However, there has been light at the end of the tunnel as we have so far not had an outbreak of Covid-19 in our shelter since the pandemic began We all need to continue to follow Public health guidelines and adhere strictly to the existing safety protocols that we have put in place. We are all in this together.

 

YWS 2019/2020 Annual Report is now available! Please click the image below for your digital copy.

 

New YWS Director of Philanthropy and Engagement

New YWS Director of Philanthropy and Engagement

Youth Without Shelter is pleased to announce the appointment of Monika Fox as the new Director of Philanthropy and Engagement effective April 20, 2020. Monika has been working with the CNIB in senior leadership roles and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience we know will benefit YWS as we move forward.

Monika is a ‘team first’ Director and her passion for helping others is remarkable. We are certain Monika will be an outstanding addition to lead an already talented and highly motivated Philanthropy and Engagement team.

The current challenges we all face around COVID-19 will unfortunately delay the opportunity for our community partners, donors, and volunteers to meet her face to face but we look forward to introducing Monika once this crisis has subsided. Until that time, she will be reaching out via video and telephone.

Please join us in welcoming Monika to our team.

Sincerely,

Steve Doherty

Executive Director

 

 

COVID-19 Prevention

COVID-19 Prevention

September 18, 2020

A message from our Executive Director, Steve Doherty

Sept 18, 2020

For all of us, we are learning to adapt to the impacts of COVID-19 on our daily lives.  Our students are learning a great deal about patience as they struggle with the online portals that will serve as classrooms for many of them.  Luckily for them, our staff members are sharing in the frustration of an ever-changing landscape for learning.  Our collective IT skills have certainly been put to the test.

As we move forward, our sanitizing vigilance has remained high.  The pandemic is far from over and our number one priority is the safety of our residents.  This requires both staff and residents to share in the responsibility for keeping our shelter healthy and safe.  The partnership between residents and staff has been the cornerstone of our efforts and it has truly shown how much we can achieve when we look out for one another.  We often hear this as a slogan in the fight against COVID-19, but here at YWS we have brought it to life.  I find it amazing how a crisis has the capacity to bring people together in a lasting and genuine way.

– Steve Doherty, Executive Director

 

July 10, 2020

A message from our Executive Director, Steve Doherty

July 10, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have adapted our practices and protocols to best ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and staff members.  It would now seem we are moving further away from the crisis stage of COVID-19 to the management stage.  The frequency of the reminders of safety measures is far less often.  Our residents and staff members are more educated on COVID-19 and the related procedures.  And we all have many more COVID-19 related words in our daily vocabulary we could never have imagined before.

Although our province is beginning to open up and ease restrictions, YWS continues to be closed to the public for onsite visitations and volunteer initiatives. We look forward to opening our doors to our community once more, and will patiently await for more information and guidance from Toronto Public Health and the Shelter, Support, and Housing Authority in order to do to safely.

There have been a few constants throughout this entire time.  One is the remarkable resilience of our residents.  They have informed us about how to act and what they need.  The dedication of so many of our YWS staff team members has been amazing.  Finally, the generosity of our donors and supporters has humbled us.  At no time did we feel as though we were alone in this.  For that I want to say thank you from the staff team and residents of YWS. 

– Steve Doherty, Executive Director

 

May 13, 2020

A message from our Executive Director, Steve Doherty

May 13, 2020

The entire country banded together to fight COVID-19 for the past 9 weeks.  Here at YWS we took extraordinary steps to make the shelter as safe as possible for both the youth we serve, and the staff who come to work here every day.  This crisis offered a unique experience of both staff and residents working together for a common goal, the health and safety of everyone here at YWS.  As staff members, we never lost sight of the fact that we work in someone else’s home, and as such, we must do our part to protect the safety of others.

We have worked closely with the Shelter, Support, and Housing Authority (SSHA), Toronto Public Health (TPH), and various other groups to ensure our protocols met and exceeded recognized standards of practice.  More importantly, we worked with our youth to ensure the hygiene practices we all employed were the best possible strategy for prevention.  Some of the steps we have taken include;

  • Every person who comes into the residence washes their hands thoroughly upon entry
  • All staff members perform a health assessment prior to their shift starting
  • Any gloves worn outside of the residence are immediately discarded upon entry
  • Routine fever checks for both staff members and residents
  • We recently had the entire facility fumigated with a virus killing mist
  • Daily sanitizing of surfaces

Since the start of the isolation measures, we have stopped entry to the shelter by volunteers and all non-essential service personnel.  We have moved all non-essential staff members offsite and remote working arrangements have been made where possible.  So many of our staff members have stepped up to the plate for our youth.  We continue to offer counselling sessions with clinicians and outside agency meetings via remote connection.  Our focus has always been on the well-being of the youth we support and this situation is no different. 

I want to thank the many donors who continue to support us and the countless volunteers who have prepared and dropped off meals.  It means so much to all of us knowing we are not alone.  I salute all of the essential workers both here at YWS and across this province who go to work each day.  Without them, life would come to a standstill.  And thank you to all of the Ontarians who have been practicing social isolation and physical distancing, you are all amazing.  We are in this together, and together is how we will emerge from this challenge stronger and more resilient.

– Steve Doherty, Executive Director

March 17, 2020
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, provided an update on the measures being put into place across the social services and youth justice sectors across Ontario to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus within our community.
Today, the Ontario Government declared the province in a state of emergency. Coinciding with recommendations from our health professionals, YWS is taking action to ensure our youth remain safe and healthy with the growing concerns of the COVID-19 virus.
YWS has enforced the following:
  • Suspension of all visitors and onsite volunteers (such as meal preparation and tutors)
  • Thorough screening for all new youth intakes
  • Thorough screening of all donated goods, corresponding with City of Toronto guidelines
  • Providing onsite flu kits and COVID-19 information for all residents and staff
  • Access to Self Assessment Screening for all residents and staff
  • Increased sanitation measures to keep our home safe
  • Posting of safe hand washing methods across the shelter
  • Suspension of all outside group activities, including March Break day trips for the resident youth
  • Following all directions from Toronto Public Health
  • Taking part in the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health’s recommendation to suspend all events of over 50 people, we are postponing Cover Me Urban until the fall. We will share the new fall date for Cover Me Urban as soon as it becomes available
Although all onsite activity with visitors and volunteers is on hold until further notice, we are currently accepting donations of goods for our youth during this challenging time. Accepted goods include non-perishable food items for our YWS kitchen and food bank.
PLEASE NOTE: All donations of goods must be pre-approved with a scheduled drop off day and time.
For more information on donating goods, please contact Anastasia at akemp@yws.on.ca.
We thank you for your support at this time, and will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of the youth we serve here at Youth Without Shelter.
A message from our Executive Director, Steve Doherty
March 17, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold rapidly around the globe. At Youth Without Shelter (YWS) we are monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with our partners the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health, relying upon the best up to date assessments and recommendations from leading Canadian public health authorities. At the heart of every decision we make is the health and safety of the young people we serve, the dedicated YWS Team, and our committed community of support. 
As we navigate this uncharted time, Youth Without Shelter is focused on the future, committed to empowering youth facing homelessness to reach individual potential. During these challenging times your support of Youth Without Shelter and the youth who call YWS home is especially meaningful. Thank you.
We cannot wait to welcome you to our “house” as soon as this is all behind us.  
– Steve Doherty, Executive Director

YWS Class of 2019

YWS Class of 2019

We’ve had a very exciting few weeks over here at YWS in our Stay in School Program.

This unique program aims to remove barriers that a homeless youth may face in completing their education by providing a safe and stable environment to live in and support and guidance from qualified staff.

With safe housing, clothing, hygiene products, nutritious food, and counselling, the program provides valuable elements that enable youth to succeed. Youth in the program have access to volunteer tutors, computers to assist with homework, transit passes, basic school supplies and school appropriate clothing based upon donations. The Youth enrolled in this program are responsible for maintaining their grades, attending school regularly and completing various household chores.

We are proud to announce that we have 11 graduates this year from both secondary and post secondary school programs!

We are so proud of their individual accomplishments, and inspired by their hard work and determination to reach their goals.

To the 2019 graduating class – Congratulations!

 

 

 

YWS Strategic Plan 2019-2024

YWS Strategic Plan 2019-2024

Youth Without Shelter has been located in the community of North Etobicoke for over 3o years. We provide a safe refuge for youth ages 16-24 who– often through circumstances beyond their control– have found themselves without a home to call their own.

Over the past year, YWS has worked through a five-year strategic plan, to define both our intended impact and theory of change, as well as a new mission and guiding principles. The culmination of this work is the “YWS Strategic Plan 2019-2024”. It is an exciting and ambitious plan that balances the need to grow with the needs of our youth clients. It is optimistic and innovative- truly reflecting the spirit of the organization and all those involved in it.

 

OUR GOAL:

Between 2019-2024, 500 youth impacted by YWS will exit out of homelessness to stable living.

 

Strategic Plan 2019-2024

 

Share your support on social media!

Facebook:

Twitter:

Instagram:

TEXT:

“I’m a proud supporter of the Youth Without Shelter 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, #500in5!

Join us in our mission to provide support to 500 youth exiting out of homelessness to stable living over the next 5 years. 

Learn more at www.yws.on.ca”

Cover Me Urban 2019 raised $165,355!

Cover Me Urban 2019 raised $165,355!

On April 10th Cover Me Urban, presented by Hudbay Minerals, came to life through the good vibes of Toronto neighborhoods at The Rec Room.

Together, the sold out Cover Me Urban crowd raised $165,355 for Youth Without Shelter’s Life Skills, Employment, Culinary, Housing and After-Care Programs! Thank you.

Take a peek at these photo and media highlights of this electric evening of urban sights and sounds:

  • Click here to see how SNAPD Downtown Toronto captured the spirit of the night.
  • Click here to view the Global Evening News piece on Cover Me Urban.
  • Click here to listen to how Cover Me Urban Food Station, Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar, make their signature “Mozzarella” on CP24 Weekend Breakfast.
  • View the Cover Me Urban Facebook Album.

See you next April 2020 in the Cover Me Urban neighborhoods.

And the final word belongs to our youth,click here for their words of thanks.

 

Thank you for creating change through Time4Change2019

Thank you for creating change through Time4Change2019

“My life was in shambles. In 4 short months YWS gave me all the help and love I could receive. And to you guys out there today in 32 degree cold, you are out there helping people, and that is what it is all about helping other humans. Thank you.”

(As shared by YWS Youth at T4C 2019 Showcase, Tangerine Downtown Café)

Thank you for creating critical awareness about youth experiencing homelessness in our city through your participation in Time4Change Day 2019, presented by Tangerine.

On a very cold Friday, February 1, close to 600 volunteers raised their voices at 27 canvassing locations calling for change one youth at a time, one step at a time, one donation at a time. Students, schools, service clubs, actors, families, employee groups, artists, countless individuals all came together as a community of support for youth.

 T4C art activism challenged the public to “hear their stories” through spoken word, theatre, music, art, dance and film.  These powerful stories developed under the leadership of T4C Artistic Co-ordinator Naomi Tessler of Branch Out Theatre and many committed professionals including: dance artist Zita Nayardy; spoken word artist Lamoi Simmonds; filmmaker Paul Davis; and multi-disciplinary artist, Yavni Bar-Yam.

Working with Time4Change to break the cycle of youth homelessness are a group of committed sponsors.  Our thanks to:  presenting sponsor and partner, Tangerine; Art & Activism Experiences Sponsor, Mantella Corporation; T4C Friends Sponsor, Hudbay Minerals; T4C’er Sponsor, Canadian Scale Company Limited; Matching Challenge Sponsor, Outliers Mining Solutions; media sponsors Pattison Outdoor, OneStop, Faren Agency and 102.1 The Edge; and T4C Cookie Sponsor, The Bake Sale.

Thank you to the multitude of venues who welcomed Time4Change Day into their spaces:  the TTC, Brookfield Place, Bay-Adelaide Centre, CBC Broadcasting Centre, College Park, Royal Bank Plaza, 10 Dundas East, 25 York Street, Toronto Dominion Centre, Yonge Eglinton Centre and the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area.

Time4Change is very much about the conversations that are the beginning of change to come such as the elderly woman who told a volunteer: “I could have used YWS when I was young” and shared her story; and the questions young students had of the YWS youth speaker at the T4C Showcase.

Together as T4C’ers you raised $88,000 to support essential transit fare costs and wrap around programming at Youth Without Shelter to enable each youth in our care to transition to stable, independent living.  This transit fare will support youth as they strive for their educational goals, search for employment and find a home to call their own.

Time4Change does not end on February 1st, you can still make change throughout February through #time4change2019 by: texting CHANGE to 45678 to donate $10 to Youth Without Shelter. FYI no standard text messaging fees are incurred by mobile users to initiate and complete a text message donation. No portion of any amount donated is held by participating wireless providers. Donations are passed through at 100% back to YWS.

T4C Day photos – visit the Youth Without Shelter Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ywstoronto/

One youth at a time, one step at a time, thank you.

This holiday season you’ve embraced the youth who call YWS home

This holiday season you’ve embraced the youth who call YWS home

As we head into 2019, our thanks to you, the Youth Without Shelter community of support, you make amazing happen here each and everyday. This holiday season you’ve embraced the youth who call YWS home through multiple acts of caring and giving from vintage clothing sales, Ugly Sweater Parties, workplace fundraisers, food drives, homestyle meals, classroom activism, concerts to name a few. When no one is expecting them home this holiday season, together we all have. Jenny, past YWS resident shared through #welcomehomeyws (www.welcomehomeyws.ca) “Anytime I needed help I could count on them, they never judged me. They always respected me, knew I had bigger dreams…to me #yws in 3 words: encouraging, helpful, inspiring.” Recently a YWS youth expressed their experience with homelessness in this way: “I honestly didn’t think I would make it. I was in a really bad place. Traumatized and damaged #yws changed my life for the better. I learned not only to care for myself but for my future. Thanks to you.” From our house to yours wishing you a year of new beginnings.

Youth Without Shelter makes the Top 100 Charity List with MoneySense

Youth Without Shelter makes the Top 100 Charity List with MoneySense

MoneySense has released its annual Top 100 Charity List to assist donors in making informed decisions during the busy 2019 holiday season.  Youth Without Shelter is one of those charities – and is recognized as the top charity in the youth category.  The ranking is based upon financial transparency (both fundraising and charity) and social results transparency (how donations are being used to create impact, and the sharing of that story).

You can view the complete list and YWS’s ranking by clicking here.  

To discuss how your gift can build a foundation for each youth at YWS to reach their potential, please contact our Development & Engagement Office at 416.748.0110 ext. 26 or communications@www.yws.on.ca.