Kennedy House Youth Shelter hosts Danforth’s Coldest Night of the Year walk

Photographed are Christina Pielot-Fogarty, Assistant Shelter Manager (left) and Vivian Manyara, Shelter Manager (right) of the Kennedy House Youth Shelter. (Theresa Balocating/Toronto Observer) 

In support of the cold living conditions that many unsheltered youth face in Toronto every winter, the Kennedy House Youth Shelter is hosting the Coldest Night of the Year walk representing the Danforth area on Feb. 24 to raise funds for the organization.

“It’s a way to raise awareness in the community about the work we do, and for (participants) involved, for them to experience the coldness,” shelter manager Vivian Manyara said of the annual event.

Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) is a Canadian-wide fundraiser that aims to support local charities serving people experiencing hurt, hunger, or homelessness. Communities across the country come together on the same day to raise money and awareness for these organizations by participating in the two- or five-kiometre walk as an act of unity for individuals who face these cold circumstances on a daily basis.

Everyone is welcome to participate. The Kennedy House Youth Shelter has raised 51 per cent of its intended goal so far. The funds will go toward the Kennedy House’s goal of $20,000 for the shelter.

Kennedy House’s mission is working with youth “to enable them to grow as individuals and contribute as members of the community.”

Located near Pape and Cosburn, the shelter a 23-bed facility that offers emergency shelter and other essential supports for youth who experience homelessness. These include “warm bedding, hygiene products, and clothing” as well as three meals throughout the day and two snacks.

“We provide a little bit of everything, and overall, a really safe, comfortable, caring place for the youth to come when they’re in need,” said Manyara.

Manyara said that the Kennedy House Youth Shelter is “consistently full.” The organization housed about 50 youth between January 2023 to January 2024.

Customized support for youth

Through residential and community-based programs, youth are provided with customized supports that allow them to enhance their life skills. The shelter provides life skills programming such as cooking, employment, and interviewing skills. Aside from life skills, youth can participate in creative programming including art, yoga, sewing, and other forms of creative expression.

Assistant shelter manager Christina Pielot-Fogarty said that in sewing class, “youth can learn to either patch items they have or make items that they like,” while also modifying garments to fit their own bodies to save money and ensure their clothes last longer.

The shetler recently celebrated Emergency Shelter and Homelessness Service Worker Appreciation Week, during which the youth wrote letters to the staff of the Kennedy House Youth Shelter explaining their feelings of home and comfort while staying there.

“This is a home for them. It’s not a shelter or emergency housing. This has become a home and we’ve become their family,” said Manyara.

“It’s really important to get involved and you don’t know how much of a difference you can make in someone’s life until you’re doing it.”

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Posted: Feb 20 2024 6:00 am
Filed under: News