At this moment, there are over 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto. Of those, half come from middle to upper class homes and have been the victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. And unless you experience it for yourself, it’s hard to understand just how ruthless street life is.
Over 74 of Toronto’s top business and community leaders, participated in Sleep Out: Executive Edition, a fundraiser put on by Covenant House Toronto. For what was to be an eye-opening night, they said goodbye to their cozy quilts and plush pillows for cold concrete and a shady alleyway. With just a sleeping bag and a cardboard box, they slept outside to raise funds and awareness about homeless youth in the city. Some of the participants included: Jeanne Beker – Fashion Icon, Annie Young-Scrivner – Starbucks President, Robert Deluce – Porter Airlines President & CEO, Bill Blair – Toronto Chief of Police, MLSE President & CEO – Tim Leiweke
“But it was the loneliness I focused on as I snuggled up in my sleeping bag out there on the cold, hard pavement of that dismal back alley. And as I lulled myself to sleep, I tried to imagine the isolation and despair that so many kids face.” – Jeanne Beker, Toronto Star.
The Toronto chapter of Covenant House was established in 1982 when the late, Cardinal Carter, raised concerns and gained support over the homeless kids who were sleeping outside his downtown office. Today, it is the largest homeless youth agency in Canada and since its inception, has helped over 85, 500 homeless youths through donations which also fund 80% of their operating budget. They provide education, counselling, health care, employment assistance and most important, love, respect and hope.
It seems the number one thing the participants took away from the experience was perspective and even bonds with the homeless kids they came to know. What they gave back, $762,976 in total for Covenant House Toronto.
For more info: covenanthousetoronto.ca
Posted by Samira Zia Rehman