To recognize #givingtuesday, here’s a story about some youth who gave their most valuable possession – their time – to make a difference in the lives of other at-risk youth who have nothing.
T’yanna and Benny helped us stuff backpacks with warm clothing, space blankets, waterproof ponchos and power bars that we are giving to 10 homeless youth in Metro Vancouver.
What’s it like to be homeless? Right now there are about 400 youth sheltering on the street or in parks, because it’s safer there than in the homes they came from. The backpacks have a card that lists all the homeless shelters open to them – but many young women avoid the shelters due to the risk of sexual abuse.
One 14 year old girl sleeps on a grate she put over a culvert to keep her dry from the water that streams underneath. Some youth seek shelter in cardboard dumpsters; often their bodies aren’t found until after the garbage truck has compacted the waste. Some are never found.
These youth live constantly in damp clothing which results in pneumonia, bronchial problems, and flesh-eating disease. They’re cold, wet, hungry and dealing with mental health and addictions issues resulting from childhood trauma and abuse.
So what can we do?
Dan’s Legacy, along with our community partners, is meeting the basic needs of the youth by helping them find safe housing (with Aunt Leah’s & Broadway Youth Resource Centre), providing food banks and our Sunday community dinner program as well as showers and laundry at Aunt Leah’s, and our free trauma-informed counselling services.
Once we get them stabilized, we then work with the youth to help them achieve their educational, employment and recovery goals.
These backpacks are just one of the ways our team of trauma-informed therapists are reaching out to the youth, who have no reason to trust any of the adults they encounter in their lives.
We’d like to thank Big Foot Industrial Supply and Save-On-Foods, Anthony from Aunt Leah’s Place, and T’yanna and Benny for their help.