Prince was twenty-one years old, living in Montreal, when he suddenly lost his job in the food service industry. After months of looking for work, he decided to try a fresh start Toronto. Once back, his counsellor through Ontario Works referred him to the Y’s employment program – and the shelter at Y House. He moved in last June and has been there ever since. And, in this cold weather, he couldn’t be more thankful.
“It’s always hard to find places to stay,” says Prince, “regardless of the season. And, the staff at Y House are really supportive,” he adds. “They all help you to get out. But, really, it’s up to the homeless person to decide if they are willing to accept the help.”
Prince wanted the help – and he quickly learned there’s no shortage of it. From employment programs to counselling and medical services, as well as youth drop-in centre, the Y is offering everything they can to help youth. And now that the new Vanauley Street YMCA is officially open, all of these programs are located under the same roof as our emergency shelter (formerly located at Y House), to enable us to offer seamless support to youth in need. It’s a truly holistic facility.
With most shelters dorm-style, Prince also feels that Vanauley will be “more private” (there are two youth per room) and safer (each room has its own washroom).
“The Y helps people advance themselves out of their situation,” Prince says, thoughtfully. “It’s their first foot out the door.”
For Prince, it was more than a first foot. Now working in the kitchen of a child care, he has plans to go back to school and one day open his own restaurant. As for where would he be if he’d never found the Y?
“I don’t know, honestly. Maybe living on the streets? I really don’t know.”
This YMCA participant has shared his/her story, but for privacy reasons is not depicted in this photo.See all impact stories