Help the homeless regain shelter and hope

A Town Crier Community Column

During this holiday season, ‘raising the roof’ might mean that hip hop move that you pull out on a dance floor at a wonderful holiday party.

Raising the Roof is also the name of a jewel of an organization on Eglinton Avenue, focused on those Canadians whose holiday season will be anything but a holiday.

Raising the Roof is Canada’s only national charity dedicated to long-term solutions to homelessness. Since 1997, Raising the Roof has allocated over $3 million to more than 117 partner agencies across Canada working to reduce homelessness at the community level.

Last year at this time, I met with Sean Gadon, president of Raising the Roof to see if we could work with Sir Richard Branson to raise awareness of the estimated 65,000 homeless youth in Canada.

He suggested that I table a motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to declare November 17 as National Youth Homelessness Awareness Day.

On March 15, I was able to table Motion 504, and since that time, we have been astounded by the support.

In October, I was honoured to be part of a breakfast with Sir Richard Branson and Sean Gadon at the inspirational Eva’s Phoenix transitional home to call on the government to support my motion and raise the awareness for the crisis of youth homelessness in Canada.

It became clear to me that a better understanding of the root causes of homelessness, together with concrete solutions of investing in the human capital and potential of these youths, was starting to pay off. Their successful programs in building life skills and social enterprise showed us exactly how this crisis can be solved.

I will remember the sign on the wall of the classroom area that read, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Listening to the remarks from their residents made you feel that they have found the formula that allows youth to regain their dignity and hope.

Virgin Unite has established a website where people can sign a petition to support the motion.

This year’s Gemini host, Cory Monteith, a passionate ambassador for Virgin Unite’s RE*Generation grassroots movement dedicated to helping homeless and at-risk youth, even pitched Motion 504 at the Gemini broadcast.

So this winter, each time we find ourselves complaining about the cold, we need to remind ourselves of those who are really ‘out in the cold’ and do something to help.

Virgin Mobile has its own four-point plan to take small steps for big change: Raise awareness; raise funds; encourage people to volunteer, and support businesses that support youth.

We can sign the petition, buy one of the Raising the Roof’s famous toques at, give generously or volunteer.
Mostly, we need to understand and speak out.

As Sean Gadon says, “Only by taking action and working together can we provide real solutions and help end the terrible crisis of homelessness in Canada.”

About this article:

By: Carolyn Bennett
Posted: Dec 1 2010 4:44 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto