Groups call for resources for young ‘hidden homeless’

The following article appeared in the Times Colonist, August 30th, 2012; written by Judy Lavoie.

 Around a table at a Vic West house, three young people are tucking into beef stew, mashed potatoes and fruit salad. It’s dinner night at the transitional home for youth run by Threshold Housing Society, and life-skills coach Peggy English has been teaching cooking skills. “That means I cook it,” she said.  Matthew, 20, and Katherine, 19, have aged out of the foster care system, while 18-year-old Cody left foster care early. All are grateful to have one of the few spots in Victoria for the growing number of homeless youth. Matthew, who had been with his foster parents since he was nine, doesn’t like to think about the alternatives.

    “If I hadn’t got it, I would have been on the streets,” he said.

 Young people have become the “hidden homeless” of Victoria, said Andrew Wynn-Williams, executive director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. It is estimated that about 600 youth between 19 and 24 are without homes and couch-surfing, living in vehicles or camping. Although accurate counts are difficult to conduct, Victoria is likely seeing a trend like Vancouver’s, which had a 29 per cent increase in homeless youth over three years, said Wynn-Williams.

Quilts for Kids

In the month of August, “Quilts for Kids” tins have been gracing each BC Liquor Store’s cash-out counter. The tins were designed by Kyra Henry (Administrative Assistant) and Fran McArthur. Fran heads the quilting group that has supplied numerous quilts to youth as they leave our transitional housing program. It doesn’t matter if they stay for a week or a year, each youth receives a quilt; it is given normally in the context of farewell dinner party where they are reminded that the quilt represents their need for safe sanctuary and that they are worthy to seek and to have such a special place.  It is also to remind them that the quilts were stitched with love, as a sign of hope for their dreams and future.

This is the second year that BC Liquor Stores have enabled us to tell a little bit of what we do in the community. The monies from the collection will go to purchasing materials for the quilting program. Thank you BC Liquor Stores and the great employees who helped to promote this program!

Intact Insurance Believes in Giving Youth a Hand Up

On August 3, 2012 Mr. Peter Norton of Intact Insurance presented Threshold with a large financial donation that will go towards the new life-skills program.

Intact Insurance gives a high priority to socially responsible actions in the local communities where they operate, as well as having a national focus. These range from youth homelessness, to climate change adaption programs, the Carbon Disclosure Project to intense employee volunteer engagement.

Mr. Peter Norton (Intact Insurance) and Mark Muldoon (Threshold)

Currently, the Intact Foundation has entered into a strategic partnership with Raising the Roof (Toronto), Canada’s only national charity seeking long term solutions to youth homelessness.  As their website states, the estimated 65,000 homeless youth in Canada is just too “shocking a statistic” to do nothing.

Block Party Marks Threshold’s 20th Year of Community Service

On July 25, about 100 neighbours, supporters, and youth workers from various agencies came out to celebrate Threshold’s 20 anniversary of service to the community. Acting Mayor, Ms. Shellie Gudgeon, acknowledged the work of the Society and wished us well as we turn our vision toward the future. The festivities were enlivened with the music of The Rooftop Runners as well as draws and food. The food was provided by the Lions Club of Victoria (thanks Gord!) with gift prizes being donated by IMAX Victoria, Cherries Breakfast Bistro  and a quilt stitched by Threshold’s quilters (Fran McArthur). The tent was provided by Remax of Victoria. Many thanks to Kyra, Dan, Graham and Rebekah for all their organizational help, as well as Tony Wick and Ron Hall of St. Peter’s Lakehill and St. David’s by the Sea.  Special thanks to Peggy English of the Life-Skills program and all the residents who worked hard to adorn the house with fantastic art work (the art tree, pictures, posters, cards – you guys are awesome!).  Many thanks as well to the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association for being such good sports and allowing us to make noise, block the street and have fun.

Block Party Marks Threshold's 20th Year of Community Service

On July 25, about 100 neighbours, supporters, and youth workers from various agencies came out to celebrate Threshold’s 20 anniversary of service to the community. Acting Mayor, Ms. Shellie Gudgeon, acknowledged the work of the Society and wished us well as we turn our vision toward the future. The festivities were enlivened with the music of The Rooftop Runners as well as draws and food. The food was provided by the Lions Club of Victoria (thanks Gord!) with gift prizes being donated by IMAX Victoria, Cherries Breakfast Bistro  and a quilt stitched by Threshold’s quilters (Fran McArthur). The tent was provided by Remax of Victoria. Many thanks to Kyra, Dan, Graham and Rebekah for all their organizational help, as well as Tony Wick and Ron Hall of St. Peter’s Lakehill and St. David’s by the Sea.  Special thanks to Peggy English of the Life-Skills program and all the residents who worked hard to adorn the house with fantastic art work (the art tree, pictures, posters, cards – you guys are awesome!).  Many thanks as well to the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association for being such good sports and allowing us to make noise, block the street and have fun.

High Energy AGM 2012

The Threshold Housing Society held its Annual General Meeting on June 27th.  With about forty people present, it was a wonderful night embracing the energy of the Staff who work with youth daily and the Board Members who support them.  The meeting begun with short but exuberant talks by Rebekah Humphrey, House Supervisor of Holly House, Tara Skobel, SHY Program Coordinator, and Peggy English, Life-Skills Coordinator. The stories, the program descriptions, and the explanations of what happens on a daily basis gave members and visitors a wonderful insight into the trials and triumphs of youth care.

Richard Couch, Rebekah Humphrey, Peggy English, Sabrina Kunz (Director), Tara Skobel, Mark Muldoon (Executive Director), and Dan Fraikin (Board DIrector) in the forefront.

The second half of the meeting was moderated by Mr. Richard Couch, Chair, and Dave Lefsrud, Board Member. In the course of the meeting, six new Board Members were nominated and farewells given to Richard Couch as the outgoing chair and Bob Porter, the outgoing Treasurer.  Both Richard and Bob gave selflessly over the number of years they served on the Board of Directors and each was acknowledged for their contribution to the continued success of the Society. For more on Bob’s work with the Society, go to the latest edition of the Spring 2012 Newsletter (In Limine). New Board members and their bios will soon appear, so stay tuned.

2012 Annual General Meeting

It is that wonderful time of the year for the Threshold Housing Society to host its Annual General Meeting (AGM).  This year our meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 7:00 pm in the Lower Lounge of St. John the Divine Rectory, 1611 Quadra St. There is parking at the rear off of Mason Street.

Membership renewal ($20) is due at the AGM. Members receive our newsletter and eligible to vote at the AGM. As well, members will receive bountiful feelings of satisfaction for helping a youth receive the benefit of a safe sanctuary so he or she can begin building their life.  Financial contributions are an important support for our work housing at-risk youth.

Donations may be posted to: Threshold Housing Society, c/o 900 Vancouver Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3V7. Please make cheques payable to Threshold Housing Society.  Threshold is a registered Canadian charity and charitable tax receipts will be issued.  Please R.S.V.P to Kyra at  info@thresholdhousing.ca   or call 250-383-8830

MLA’s Hear about Threshold!

Threshold, for the first time in its history, received mention in the BC provincial legislature on May 17th, 2012, with a statement by Carol James, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. Ms. James remarks referred to Threshold’s recent receipt of grant money from Victoria High School students through the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth program (see blog entry below). The statement in part reads:

C. James: The Victoria Foundation’s vital youth program provides students from seven local high schools with hands-on experience in philanthropy and community development. Earlier this month representatives from the program presented $17,648 in grants to 18 local charities.
But this was no ordinary selection process. The recipient organizations were chosen on recommendations by the students themselves. Using the foundation’s Vital Signs community report as a tool, they researched potential charities, they conducted interviews, and they completed on-site visits. Then the teams from each school made written recommendations to Victoria Foundation’s board of directors for final selection. …

MLA's Hear about Threshold!

Threshold, for the first time in its history, received mention in the BC provincial legislature on May 17th, 2012, with a statement by Carol James, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. Ms. James remarks referred to Threshold’s recent receipt of grant money from Victoria High School students through the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth program (see blog entry below). The statement in part reads:

C. James: The Victoria Foundation’s vital youth program provides students from seven local high schools with hands-on experience in philanthropy and community development. Earlier this month representatives from the program presented $17,648 in grants to 18 local charities.
But this was no ordinary selection process. The recipient organizations were chosen on recommendations by the students themselves. Using the foundation’s Vital Signs community report as a tool, they researched potential charities, they conducted interviews, and they completed on-site visits. Then the teams from each school made written recommendations to Victoria Foundation’s board of directors for final selection. …

Saanich Councillor Hears the Cry of At-Risk Youth

In response to Simon Nattrass’ article, “A Crisis of Youthful Poverty,” that appeared in the April edition of Focus magazine, Paul Gerrard, a Saanich Councillor, wrote the following letter to the editor. It is a clear description of the problem as well as a cry for all sectors of the community to start addressing this challenge. The letter is reproduced in its entirety and appears on page 6 in the current May edition of Focus magazine.

I have just been appointed to the Coalition to End Homelessness, and the article on homeless youth really hit a nerve with me. Some years ago, as part of the homeless count, I interviewed a group of young people at a drop-in centre in a downtown church basement, and found a mixed bag of circumstances in their stories.
Many had fled a violent or sexual situation at home, some had been thrown out for drug use, and some, sadly, had been told that they were worthless and weren’t wanted anymore. Imagine what hearing that does for your confidence and self worth?

Remarkably, I found an intelligent group of young people who had a selection of survival techniques, and most importantly, looked after and supported one another. They shared friendly “couch surfing” addresses, camped together in our parks, shared food and drink, and had a drop-in centre to go to that was a welcome refuge from the streets. One thing everyone agreed on: shelters were a last resort, and everyone had a bad experience to recount. We really need supportive housing for all of our homeless population; shelters are just a band-aid solution and only suit

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