GivingTuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, taking place each year after Black Friday. It’s a time when charities, companies and individuals join together and rally for different causes.
This year, for the 8th annual GivingTuesday on December 1st, we wanted to switch things up a bit! Rather than highlighting our greatest needs, or opportunities to donate, we wanted to take a moment to give back this year and share stories of some of the amazing volunteers, donors, and supporters who give to YWS.
Here are the 7 stories we featured over our social media with our “GivingTuesday Giving Back countdown”
Beverley Halls and the Christmas Treats Team
Beverley Halls is the leader behind the Christmas Treats Team. Each year this team gathers in the YWS kitchen on Boxing Day to share an incredible meal they have made with the youth saying at YWS. She has a passion for giving back because she was a “troubled” youth and experienced homelessness herself.
Beverley worked for Toronto City councillor Blake Kinahan when she received a memo about YWS starting up and needing support. Beverley started connecting YWS with different businesses and churches in the area. Even when, for a period of time, she was not directly involved at YWS she always spoke to people in her community about getting involved and giving back.
She began hosting her annual Boxing day meal because she is, in her words, a “Christmasaholic”. Her Christmas season always stars with a soiree. Her guests in attendance were asked to donate items that she would collect for the youth charities she supported. Many times the menu for the Boxing Day dinner at YWS was determined by what was donated. Each year she likes to take the youth on a flavour filled trip around the world by making Thai, Chinese, Caribbean, and Canadian inspired meals to name a few.
Beverley has been with YWS since the beginning. She has always spread the word about YWS to anyone she could share to.
“I want people to do that little thing- if you can only do a bag of rice or 6 broccoli, consider that. We’re not asking for a lot. If you can do more, then do more but think about that little bit that you can give. If you’re at the store buying banana’s think about buying a few more to donate”
It is a part of her holiday celebration each year that she can work with the Christmas Treats team to continue supporting year after year for the youth we serve.
“This giving back to the youth will come back to us in our society… at YWS we have seen the comeback and the great stories of those enduring hardships. All we want is people with success stories who are stable. Not everyone can be a doctor and that is not what we expect, (but) we want them all to be stable”
“I applaud the volunteer to the smallest donor. I thank them personally because it’s close to my heart”
Thank you Beverly for all that you’ve done for the youth we serve here at YWS!
Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation (AMDF)
A message from Aubrey & Marla Dan :
“At the Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation (AMDF), we are committed to helping select organizations in creative and impactful ways across our three giving pillars: Community, Healthcare, and Education. At present, our priority initiatives are focused on youth mental health and homelessness within Ontario.
We are proud to support the mental health program at YWS. Youth Without Shelter (YWS) offers a safe refuge and wrap-around support programs for youth aged 16 – 24 with lived experience of homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area. The increased need for mental health support is evident even more so due to COVID-19. By hiring a part-time mental clinician, YWS has created an effective and personalized pathway to care.
We believe individuals and communities should be healthy, confident, inspired, successful and educated. We are committed to engaging with organizations dedicated to bringing about positive change. COVID-19 has brought unforeseen challenges to the organizations we support. We remain committed to our goals and values to create a sustainable, long-term impact so that organizations can continue to operate during and after the pandemic.”
Thank you Aubrey & Marla Dan for everything you have done for our youth. We are so grateful to have your support through this pandemic. From all of us here at YWS- Thank you!
Ilona was born in Poland, and came to Canada with her family in 1994. She studied Psychology at York University, and is now working for 911 Interpreters and a Video+ Transcription company.
When asked why she gives to charities, she replied: “I give to charities when I have such possibility because I believe it is essential to support the right causes, and to aid those who need help. I believe that such involvement is, in fact, our social responsibility. As well, I myself have received help, and experienced people’s kindness in abundance at times when I most needed it; now I want to, and I try to give back.
The reason I have chosen YWS is that the youth whom the organization serves can truly benefit from the help in getting out and developing their best potential, so that they can enjoy good, fulfilling lives, and, in turn, enrich our society by contributing their talents in various ways. I see YWS as an organization which truly strives, through the many very well structured programs it offers, to help the young people in their care get on a path to a good, meaningful future.”
Ilona has supported YWS since 2016, and the impact she has had on our youth is immeasurable. Thank you Ilona for all that you do, and continue to do for YWS.
The Ismaili Women’s’ Network
The Ismaili Women’s Network (IWN) was established two years ago to support women who are over the age of 55. Beginning with 5-10 women, and now having expanded to over 100, the IWN acts as a support group for its members to meet and discuss mental health, family life, and cultural stigmas.
The members of IWN wanted to give back to their community. After first hosting community group meet ups such as yoga and other activities, they wanted to do more. They decided to give back to YWS because it was very close to the West Sector meeting location. The stories of the youth are what drew the IWN to supporting them for the past two years. IWN’s support has translated through dozens of home-cooked monthly meals including samosas.
“Serving the community is in our DNA, we give back to the community and it is stressed by the Aga Khan our spiritual leader; support regardless of race, religion, and cultural background”
Thank you to all members of the IWN who have reached out to support us countless times over the last couple of years. We can’t thank you enough for your kindness and generosity!
Jina Shin has been a dedicated volunteer at YWS for 4 years. Her love of piano, learning new things, and cooking have fuelled her passion for volunteering at YWS. Jina has always been involved with volunteer work and wanted to use her musical talents to teach others. Over the years, she has been a dedicated piano volunteer, helping many of our youth by giving them a creative outlet to express themselves and improve their musical skills.
Jina is a management consultant who has also involved her colleagues with item drives for the holiday giving season. With her support, and the support of her colleagues, she has been able to support and empower many youth here at YWS. When she’s not tutoring, she can be found in our kitchen with her friends and family cooking up a storm for our 53 hungry residents.
Thank you Jina for all of your tremendous support! We look forward to having you and your family and friends join us in the YWS kitchen one day after COVID restrictions have eased.
A message from Dr. Sly and the team at Health For Life Chiropractic:
“Ten years ago we were looking for a way to give back and make the biggest impact on families close to their Cloverdale Mall office. Being a part of this community since 2002, we were interested in finding the best way to improve the area our practice calls home.
Prior to finding Youth Without Shelter (YWS), our wonderful patients had been raising funds with our seasonal “Gift of Health” program for other local charities but when Dr. Sly found YWS, it seemed like the perfect fit for our family and pediatric based practice.
Partnering with YWS in their back-to-school program provides shelter residents with school supplies and other education necessities. This resonates with our office’s philosophy that an early start is key to lifetime health. On our office wall is the saying “It is easier to grow healthy kids than to fix broken adults.” This principle applies to both the body and the mind.
Paving the way for our youth to be successful in life is an ongoing task and the team at Health For Life Chiropractic is excited to continue giving back to our wonderful Etobicoke community by partnering with YWS now and in the future.”
Thank you Dr. Sly and the Health For Life Chiropractic team for your ongoing support to the youth we serve here at YWS. Because of you, we have been able to assist countless youth throughout their individual journeys to find safe, affordable housing. Thank you!
Muneef Ahmed and Jamiat-ul-Ansar
Muneef Ahmed is a member of Jamiat-ul-Ansar. Jamiat-ul-Ansar means “group of helpers”. The leadership of the Mosque is geared towards making this place of worship a community hub and serving the community at large. Jamiat-ul-Ansar began giving back to their community though a meal program called Feed the Poor. Feed the Poor was created by Muneef’s father Sheikh Ahmed and Majid Ali. This program is aimed at providing meals for youth, shelters, and food banks. Giving back to the community and helping those in need is embedded within Islam. Their decision to help YWS was a perfect match.
Jamiat-ul-Ansar provides delicious meals every month for our youth. Their prep begins the week before their delivery date to buy groceries and prepare the meal. On the morning of, they come together to cook the meal so it is fresh for lunch. Throughout the pandemic they have modified how they prepare meals for YWS but their support has been unwavering. Thank you to everyone who has helped prepare meals for our youth! We are all extremely grateful for your support.