Mark had no friends or family to turn to when he arrived at our Toronto Queen Street West YMCA Shelter (Y House) looking for a place to sleep. Now, just one year later, the 24-year-old has started to turn his life around by taking advantage of a number of YMCA services, including counselling and a pre-employment program.
“The difference with the YMCA is that it’s easy to access the programs you need to get help,” he says, during his first tour of our new facility for homeless youth, the Vanauley Street YMCA.
“It will only be easier at Vanauley now that everything (the drop-in and support services) is on the same floor,” he adds, as he walks through the facility admiring the “warmth”, privacy and increased safety offered by the double-occupancy rooms and private bathrooms.
The shelter (relocated from Y House) is located on the upper level, while the first floor houses a youth drop-in program, medical and counselling services. The pre-employment program, which was key to helping Mark get “job ready” is located on the basement level.
“Having a case worker to bounce things off of was the biggest part in me finding a job and getting back on my feet,” he explains. “I received help with workplace clothing and transportation money, and they are assisting me with getting into low-income housing.”
Now 25, it’s time for Mark to transition out of the youth shelter . As he looks around the new space before leaving to go search for his own apartment, he has one last thought. “Youth staying here should feel privileged—it’s safe and private. And, you can get the help you need.”See all impact stories