YWS News

YWS Volunteer Appreciation Hour

Brittany Bateman
Posted 2 years ago

Thank you to those who joined us live on April 24 to celebrate our amazing volunteers during National Volunteer Week!

Over the years, YWS has opened our doors to hundreds of volunteers. Corporate groups, family groups, faith organizations and individuals. These volunteers have helped us in so many ways. They have helped us maintain our gardens, creating a beautiful, safe area for our youth to relax and unwind, they have helped our youth with 1-on-1 tutoring sessions, they have joined us in our YWS kitchen to prepare countless meals and snacks, and have even rolled up their sleeves and helped us paint bedrooms for our residents.

These volunteers have joined us from across the GTA, from all walks of life, and all have one thing in common- they want to help put an end to youth homelessness.

It’s because of these dedicated volunteers that we have been able to assist over 1,000 youth each year in their efforts to reach their individual potentials, and find safe and affordable housing.

If you missed the live event, you can view a recording of our celebration below, as well as view all written testimonials that were sampled during the event.

Thank you again for everyone who joined in!

We look forward to having you back to YWS to support our youth.


Written Testimonials

Lynn Campbell 

As a stay-at-home mother of three I have always gravitated to volunteer activities involving children. Many busy years were spent organizing and running school events and fundraisers. As my children became teenagers my interest turned to helping other youth who did not have a support system in place to help them grow and flourish.

I love the fact that Youth Without Shelter is a local, grassroots organization where community involvement from many individuals like myself has a real impact.

When I talk about the Shelter to my network of friends and family I highlight three things that I think make YWS stand out in the charitable sector: the incredible dedication of the staff, the Stay In School program and the excellent financial management.

The staff has created an amazing atmosphere of caring and trust. They invite about 1000 youth a year to call YWS “home” for whatever time they need support. Many of the staff members have worked at the shelter 15-20 years, which is a testament to their dedication.

The Stay In School program allows youth 16-24 to live there permanently while they are continuing their education. Many of these youth go on to specialize in caring professions, ready to “give back” to others in need. Their stories of resilience and success are inspiring!

YWS has been recognized this year by Macleans Magazine for their excellent financial management and transparency. Bottom line: costs are kept low so that most of the donation dollars go to the youth.

I am proud to be a part of the large community of volunteers that has helped make YWS a home and sanctuary for so many youth over the past 34 years.



Tracy O’Neil – Qualcomm Human Resources

I was introduced to Youth Without Shelter nearly 10 years ago through corporate giving initiatives. It was one of our first employee volunteer events, and made such an impression that we have been coming back year over year to help with projects inside and out – assembling intake kits, sorting clothing and donations, gardening and yard work, painting, painting and more painting! I recall apologizing after one particularly messy paint job at the hands of our university interns and YWS staff just laughed and reminded me it will need a new coat of paint in just a couple months anyway. I guess no one cares much about the drips! Every time we are welcomed by caring staff and invited to share in the experience of youth living at YWS. What an incredible opportunity to take team building to a new and meaningful level – we are never short of employee volunteers when YWS comes knocking.



Sandreen Porter – SUSA

  1. What is your philanthropic story?

I have two parts to this question; personally, I want to shed light and bring awareness to youth homelessness, especially youths within Toronto. When one has lived an experience, they understand its pain. In addition, I cannot take all the credit, as I have an amazing team behind me, the SUSA (Sociology Undergraduate Student Association) Executives. We are youths and young adults ourselves who are also faced with our own challenges. As students, we want to feel we are making a positive contribution to our community.

  1. What do you tell others about YWS?

On a daily basis YWS provides for the needs and welfare of youths experiencing homelessness. This is indeed a tremendous duty on their part. They are a beacon of hope not just for youths within and around Toronto but for youths all over the globe that have come and find comfort and place to call home at the resident.

  1. How did you come to choose YWS as a charity to support?

Dated back in 2018 when I held the position of the Outreach Director for the Sociology Undergraduate Student Association, my first project was wanting to do something meaningful and give back to my community; as so many has been ignored and the projection of the media only allows outsiders to see black and white, but not the grey between. I want others to see beyond the statistic of youth homelessness and understand their stories, and their need for change.

  1. What is it about Youth Without Shelter that drew you to become involved as a volunteer?

Their stories were once my story. The staff’s passion and endurance to help youths and positively enhancing their community. A community function like a mechanism, it will scramble when divided, and stand strong when united. Their drive for change is what drew me to help. This is my community, and I want to be apart of something greater than I am, I want to be apart of change, apart of hope, and part of the future and wellbeing of youths.

  1. If you were to describe YWS in one word, what would it be?


  1. What is your goal as a volunteer? What do you want, or want to help YWS to achieve?

My goal is to continue giving back to those in need. I would love for youth’s homelessness to come to an end, and I see that YWS is fighting this fight each and every day, giving youths a sense of hope that tomorrow is brighter than today. Indeed, they are passionate about what they do as a community and that’s what make them winners in this fight. I want YWS to continue doing what they do best, as so many youths rely on them.



Yaldar Schwartz – John D. Parker Junior School

Hello my friends at YWCA,

My name is Yaldar Schwartz and I am an elementary teacher at John D. Parker Junior School. For the past 19 years I have supported YWS through various initiatives such as seasonal food drives, clothing drives and reusable water bottle initiative at the school level. I have creative developmental curriculum connection with the elementary students, their parents and community to support global citizenship and local community. My daughter Evelyn has also extended her passion for community and environment by starting an ongoing reusable water bottle initiative to support all homeless youth in the city to access water. Her reusable water project has reached many homeless individuals so that they can access water.

Thank you for the opportunity for allowing me to share. YWS has also helped me in my life to be a more kind, patient and compassionate person. 



Sarah Sam – C3 Church
Youth Without Shelter is an incredible organization. As C3 Toronto, we love coming to YWS to volunteer. Every time we have prepared a meal, it’s been so great to interact with the youth. I love how the team at YWS is always up for a new idea – we tried a movie night at YWS and it was so much fun for everyone involved. Love that the team is open to giving us new ways we can serve youth in our city. Thank you for everything the team does to support youth in Toronto!

Thank you for all you do!



Muneef Jamiat-ul-Ansar

We are honoured to be a small part of the YWS family and admire the great work you do in your mission, “To empower youth facing homelessness to reach individual potential”.
The future of our country is on the shoulders of our youth. When the late Mr. Sheikh Ahmad and Mr. Majeed Alli commenced this healthy meals program, the primary focus was to provide hot, delicious meals to the youth as well as food banks and shelters on a regular basis.
YWS has been a strong partner for us and more importantly a pillar in our community. We are delighted that you have allowed us to work with you and build upon this program to serve the community. Our program has been fortunate to have a team of incredible volunteers, financial support of the congregation of Jamiat-ul-Ansar (Great Lakes Mosque-Brampton) and Mosque Management under the leadership of the Mosque Imam Zahir Bacchus.
Together let us “end homelessness, one youth as a time, one step at a time” especially now, more than ever, in this new and changing world of unprecedented times. WE appreciate you granting us this rewarding opportunity in the service of humanity.



Rayshell – Past YWS Resident

As a volunteer at YWS, I find great pleasure and fulfilment in taking part in impacting lives and giving back. I used to live at YWS, I must truly say I would not have been where I am today without their help. I was able to complete my diploma in nursing and even after I left YWS I am still receiving support in housing and food. Thus, there would be no other way to spend my spare time, then to give back to a community that made me who I am today.

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