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

Youth Helping Youth

On May 3rd, Threshold received a donation of $625 from Victoria High School students under the auspices of the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth program. The Vital Youth program provides students with hands-on experience in philanthropy and community development. Formally launched in three schools in November 2003, the program—previously named Youth in Philanthropy—has grown to include seven high schools in three school districts. For more information on this program see Vital Youth.

The event was held at the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Oak Bay. Students from the college performed a wonderful piece from their new stage production of “Footloose.” This was a marvelous performance and reflected so precisely the energy and vitality of young people channelled toward making the community a better place for each of us to live.

From left to right: Mark Muldoon (Threshold), Abi Hodson (Youth Advisory Council), Mohammed Rasheed, Kamille Tobin-Shields, Brianna Sheppard-Murphy, and Maggie Wright.

Threshold Receives a Great Christmas Present for Easter

On April 5th, Threshold was the happy recipient of a donation that can be traced back to Christmas. During the Christmas season, Black Press sponsored a donation drive called “Pennies for Presents.”  It involved collecting loose change from Christmas shoppers that would eventually be distributed to help the needy through five different charities in the area.   The different agencies involved in this year’s drive included the Mary Manning Centre, Threshold Housing Society, Victoria READ Society, the Young Parents Support Network and NEED2.

From Left to Right: Danielle Pope (of Monday Magazine), Tara Skobel, Mark Muldoon, Rebekah Humphrey, Graham Kelly (of Threshold)

The initiative collected more than $12,000 in Greater Victoria last year and more than $600,000 since its inception.  Thanks to everyone who chipped in and helped. It is a great sign of encouragement and community support for the great work done by non-profits in our community. Special thanks to Black Press for reaching out and being such great supporters of this wild, wonderful experiment called “human kindness.”

What is it like to be a youth and homeless in Victoria?

What is it like to be a youth and homeless in Victoria?  To find out, read the current edition of Focus magazine (April, 2012).  In “A Crisis of Youthful Poverty,” Simon Nattrass talks with several current residents of Threshold’s Holly House and Mitchell House. The article gives poignant voices to voiceless youth who all too often fall through the cracks.

Youth Homelessness is real

As the article summarizes: “Homeless kids don’t want to be on the street, but they do want freedom and independence. Theirs is not a crisis of direction or maturity or lack of discipline, but rather a crisis of maturing under an unsupportive, inflexible and impersonal system. They need the resources to feed, clothe and shelter themselves while establishing their independence. While the broader homeless community suffers with chronic drug abuse and mental illness, the coherent, responsible, intelligent youth who call the streets home see these problems as merely the natural result of being denied a chance at a normal life.”

Homelessness among youth in West Shore spurs community leaders to action

The following article appeared in the Times Colonist, Friday, March 9, 2012, written by Derek Spalding

The increasing number of homeless youth in the West Shore has sounded alarm bells for some community leaders looking to eradicate the problem before it gets worse.  On Monday, Langford council became the first municipality in the West Shore to endorse a housing report that identifies an immediate need to create a support network for homeless youth.

At least six to eight shelter beds, plus transition houses, are needed for youth from Langford, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands and Colwood, according to the WestShore Youth Housing Study, produced by Elliott Urban Planning.  The problem remains mostly hidden from the public because homeless and at-risk youth carry on with their schooling or jobs without telling anyone, said Bill McElroy, chairman of the Pacific Centre Family Services Association, which provides early-intervention programs for youth between five and 18.

Rebekah Humphrey and Graham Kelly are mentors with the Threshold Housing Society. Concerns have been raised over the increasing number of homeles and at-risk youth in the West Shore. Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury , timescolonist.com (March 2012)

Youth Summit In Victoria 2012

Belonging: A Victoria Youth Homelessness Summit is a community based, volunteer driven initiative aimed at promoting a vibrant, inclusive and healthy Victoria by addressing one of the most pressing local public health issues: youth homelessness. The Summit will not only educate participants but help to empower community members while distilling sustainable community based solutions on youth homelessness. Read more at belongingvictoria.com . More details will be forthcoming.

Youth Homelessness Summit: The 2 day Summit will be held downtown at Victoria’s historic Odd Fellows hall on Saturday April 21-Sunday the 22nd, with a social meet & greet Friday the 20th 7-10pm.

Fundraiser: In aid of the Youth Summit, there will a “Roaring 20’s Gala Fundraiser and Silent Auction.”  This event will take place at the Victoria Odd Fellows hall, Saturday March 3rd. The Gala Event will feature live music, dancing, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, billiards as well as a silent auction. Twenties era costumes and outfits are encouraged at the Gala Event and an elegant décor will set the mood. There will also be an information booth where Gala attendees can learn more about Belonging as well as register to attend the Summit. There are only 90 tickets available, so contact the organizers fast at:  BelongingVictoria@gmail.com

THANK YOU COMMUNITY!

Threshold wishes to thank the many organizations and individuals that made donations in order to give residents a Santa surprise. Special thanks to the teachers and staff of Island Catholic Schools, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Vancity Bank, and Unilever Canada (Heather Oliver).  Many thanks to the Anglican Tri-Ministries of St. Davids, St. Michael’s and St. Peter’s, The  Red Barn, Root Cellar, Fairways on Quadra and the Market on Yates for assisting in putting on a wonderful dinner for the residents and Board members.  Thank you to everyone whose spirit of generosity gave off a special light to those in need.

May 2012 be filled with Promise and Hope beyond your wildest imagination.

Blast from the Past – Tim Benetti

During the 2011 GoodLife Royal Victoria Marathon (see post below), Threshold had the honour of meeting up with an old friend, Tim Benetti. Tim was the Mitchell House Supervisor from 1994 to 2001.

Tim Benetti 2011

In a 1998 Threshold newsletter, Tim was introduced by the words: “It takes very special people to work in Mitchell House or Holly House. It’s a job that defies description but demands caring, patience and compassion.” Tim has all of these qualities. For seven years, Tim shepherded as many as 20 to 25 young men through Mitchell House, some suffering from clinical depression to schizophrenia and low self-confidence.

Former Mitchell House 1992-2010

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