"The harsh reality is that most are fleeing abuse and neglect and are at high risk of violence and exploitation," says Bruce Rivers, Covenant House Toronto Executive Director
Toronto, ON (PRWEB) January 28, 2014
Covenant House Toronto is launching a month-long array of activities, including advocacy and fundraising, to shine a light on the often overlooked and misunderstood issue of youth homelessness. The agency also aims to raise much-needed funds through the month.
“While the myth persists that homeless youth are rebellious party-goers, the harsh reality is that most are fleeing abuse and neglect and are at high risk of violence and exploitation,” says Bruce Rivers, Covenant House Toronto Executive Director.
As well as media opportunities, the agency is planning advocacy efforts with government to gain more support for homeless youth. It is also reaching out to donors and supporters as well as companies and employee groups to help raise the additional $1 million it needs to make this year’s operating budget of $20 million. The month will wrap up with a visit by Covenant House International President Kevin Ryan, who heads the 21-site network spanning from Alaska to Latin America.
Much more than a shelter, Covenant House offers about 3,000 kids annually the widest range of life-changing services under one roof, including education, employment and job training, counselling, and health care. To do all this, the agency relies on donors for 80 percent of its annual budget.
“Today, we are finding our kids are more stuck and unable to move forward without extra support,” Rivers says. He points out that for the past five years the agency has seen record-high daily numbers of kids staying in its 94-bed emergency shelter.
About 35 percent of the youth Covenant House Toronto serves suffer from mental health issues, some 40 percent have been involved with child welfare and about 30 percent have been in some form of the sex trade.
The month has been proclaimed by the City of Toronto and recognized by the Ontario government.
The agency chose February for its campaign as it is traditionally the coldest winter month and when kids most need a safe refuge. It also marks Covenant House Toronto‘s opening in 1982.