Hope for unhoused youth

Amherst Anglicans say yes to “hopeful future” for unhoused youth

On Sunday, May 29 Christ Church Amherst, Nova Scotia welcomed special guest speakers Sarah MacMaster, Executive Director of Maggie’s Place Family Resource Center, and Alison Lair, Manager of Community Development Cumberland YMCA for the launch of this year’s Say Yes! to Kids campaign to support unhoused youth.

“This is the biggest outreach into the community we have done since we helped to start the food bank 34 years ago,” said the Rev. Will Ferrey, Rector. “As awareness about the affordable housing crisis in our region grows, the people of Christ Church Amherst are committed to taking action to support young people who are experiencing homelessness or who are insecurely housed.”

From left to right: Alison Lair, Sarah MacMaster and the Rev. Will Ferrey

Sarah MacMaster shed light on the “complicated” and often “unsafe” lifestyles that Maggie’s Place outreach workers are observing among their community’s unhoused youth. MacMaster also reminded those gathered that the youth housing crisis cannot always be easily seen. “Unhoused or homeless youth may not be visible. They may be staying with friends, and relatives or sleeping in different areas of the county from night to night.”

MacMaster spoke of the help that organizations like Maggie’s Place can provide. “We can offer these young people a safe place to land and hope for the future by connecting them with community resources, and meeting some of their basic needs like food, a shower, and laundry facilities.” The key, she said, is to establish safety first. “Until safe and secure housing needs are met it is difficult to move forward in other areas. We all need a stable foundation to build our lives on and this is true for our youth.”

It is in growing that stable foundation where the people of Christ Church hope to make a difference with the Say Yes! to Kids campaign. Proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will help to launch a Youth Navigation Fund in partnership with Maggie’s Place. The fund will give youth outreach workers the freedom and flexibility to bridge gaps, reduce barriers and tailor support to meet individual needs. “Everybody understands that sometimes you need to help people fast,” said Ferrey, “and this fund will do that.”

Campaign proceeds will also drive a widespread volunteer training effort to equip the community-at-large to work with vulnerable youth. “We can envision a number of supportive programs that build on the good work being done by our community partners,” said Ferrey, “but we need to make sure we are ready to do what is truly good and helpful in the development and delivery of services in our community.”

Christ Church Amherst has already raised $2,000 towards their $15,000 goal, and the campaign has only just begun. They are one of 22 fundraising teams from 12 dioceses across the country participating in Say Yes! to Kids 2022. Individual campaign goals range from $2,500 to $25,000 and total just over $200,000. Projects cover a range of impact zones including: Outdoor Recreation, Indigenous Ministries, Faith Formation, Alleviating Poverty, Education Enrichment, Arts & Music.

AFC’s second annual Say Yes! to Kids campaign will run until June 30. Visit www.anglicanfoundation.org/kids to find a team to support.