Thank you to our YWS Frontline Heroes

Thank you to our YWS Frontline Heroes


COVID-19 has impacted every single human being on this planet. However, some have been affected differently than others. The vulnerable populations within our community in particular face significant challenges; imagine what those struggling with homelessness must face when being told to “stay home”, if they don’t have one to go to.

During COVID-19, the role of our front line team has dramatically changed – the shifts are longer, the risks are higher. Despite this, we know that we can always rely on our front line team to take the extra step for our youth, and do so with a smile on their faces. Our staff have continued to come to work each and every day throughout the COVID-19 crisis, to ensure the well-being and safety of the youth who call YWS home.

The reason YWS has been able to persevere through this pandemic rests on the shoulders of our front line team. It is because of them that our youth throughout COVID have had someone to rely on, someone to reach out to for guidance, and someone to trust with their day to day health and safety.

To all of our front line staff here at YWS…. Thank you.


“I work for them”

“I’m here because their success is my success”

– Aklilu, Front Line Case Manager


“I stand up for them”

“Coming from a troubled childhood, I will always fight, stand and advocate for every child or youth.”

-Dominic, Front-line case manager


“I speak up for them”

“I am here to support and advocate for those who cannot access resources on their own”

-Andrea, Housing and Aftercare Specialist


“I fight for them!”

“I am here because it’s an honour to serve and advocate for those who need our help, to be the voice for those who can’t be heard.”

-Tonka, Front-line case manager


“I cook for them”

“I am here because a hot prepared meal can bring warm comfort and a smile”

-Keshia, Part Time Cook and Front Line Staff


“I am here for them”

“I’m here because I will not abandon our youth”

-Art, Planning and Evaluation Manager


“I provide nourishment for them”

“I’m here because they need comfort in all forms; food can nourish the soul”

-Richelle, Food Service Coordinator  


“I advocate for them”

“I am here because pre-existing inequities grew during the pandemic”

-Moe, Primary Case Manager


“I listen to them”

“I’m here because everybody deserves to be heard”

-Kim, Stay in School Program Coordinator



One hand can change their life and it was yours

One hand can change their life and it was yours

On Friday, February 5, Tokens4Change Day, many hands came together to change the lives of homeless youth.  Over 500 volunteers, 17 schools, 12 companies and six arts locations with inspiring performers and artists canvassed in 27 locations lending their hands and voices to the cause.

Together with our Tokens4Change presenting sponsor, Tangerine, we are thrilled to share that Tokens4Change has raised an incredible $100,000!  This morning as we confirmed the final numbers, Tangerine asked us:“How far are you from your 2016 Tokens4Change goal of $100,000?” Answer: $7,756. And then Tangerine made it happen with an additional donation of $7,756. Together all of these funds will support youth transit costs and essential empowering programs at Youth Without Shelter.  

Thank you to each and every volunteer who lent a hand with Tokens4Change. Thank you to Tangerine, the Tokens4Change presenting sponsor, for your investment in the remarkable potential of homeless youth and for welcoming T4C into your Downtown Toronto Cafe.  Thank you to the T4C sponsors:  Mantella Corporation(Metro Pass Arts & Activism Sponsor), media sponsors Faren Agency, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, and the official cookie sponsor, Bake Sale.  Thank you to the Toronto Transit Commission, each canvassing location host, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area all who play a key role in making T4C happen.  Thank you to Patricia Jaggernauth, Weather Specialist/Remote Reporter for CP24, for hosting the T4C arts showcase.  And thank you to all of the performers and artists who shared passionately about the issue of youth homelessness through their art forms.  Thank you to the many hands that came together to create change.

It is the intangibles of the day that cannot be measured, those very special moments that raise awareness about youth homelessness in our city today:

  • The former resident of Youth Without Shelter who walked into the Tangerine Downtown Cafe and made a donation from his workplace.  He had seen the T4C posters in the TTC, gone back to his colleagues and raised funds!
  • Words such as these from the Havergal College spoken word piece:  “Where do you run when home is where you are running from.”
  • Feedback notes left in a T4C station bin from student canvassers:  “I have just experienced what it feels like to be homeless and rejected.  But I cannot imagine what it’s like to be desperate every single moment…” “Guy gives change, comes back and gives us all high fives.”
  • A transit rider who made a donation to a canvasser, then identified himself as a former resident of Youth Without Shelter.
  • The youth speaker at the Tangerine arts showcase who is now living independently, completing Grade 12 and has applied for a trucking apprenticeship that will enable her to work with the TTC, fixing vehicles!

For photo highlights of the day please check out the Tokens4Change Facebook Page.

“One hand can change their life. It was yours.”