On Tuesday, September 17th, our team at the Pinball Clemons Foundation once again traded our dress clothes for chef aprons to help cook dinner for the youth at Youth Without Shelter Toronto (YWS).
YWS was created by a group of teachers and guidance counsellors after being frustrated with the lack of safe, emergency housing and support programs for their students. Since that time, YWS has helped more than 15,000 homeless youth to build their confidence and life-skills and to find long-term stable housing and jobs.
When people hear the word “homeless”, the first thing they picture is a man or a woman asking for change on a street corner. Society rarely thinks about a different scenario such as a teenager with no money, family, or home roaming the streets at night, but sadly, this is a very common scenario. The average person may be shocked to hear that 35,000 - 40,000 youth experience homelessness in Canada every year and there is approximately 2,000 homeless youth in Toronto every night.
We have been partnering with Youth Without Shelter for many years now. Early on we were shocked to learn that the budget for YWS is less than $3.00 a day for three meals. This statistic became one of our main motivators to visit and cook dinner for the youth every month.
Our visits vary each month as sometimes we bring other charity partners, donors or board members. This time we used this visit as a team building activity for our day-to-day staff, along with a few of our closest friends. The day started with a trip to the local grocery story to grab ingredients and few extra items that we thought the shelter could use.
Three full shopping carts later we were off to the shelter. The menu for the evening consisted of jerk chicken, YWS’ Chef Joe’s homemade mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, coleslaw and cookies for dessert. It was great to see the smiling faces of the youth as they came along the service line.
We are looking forward to our next visit. For more information about Youth Without Shelter Toronto go to www.yws.on.ca