Every year, a growing group of brave supporters of Windsor Residence for Young Men bundle up and spend a 14-hour winter night "sleeping rough", as some homeless people might say - although, to tell the truth, the volunteers are well dressed for the weather, with friends and all support services at hand. It's a miserable night, nonetheless, which is meant to draw attention to the tragic circumstances of homeless young people.
Here's a photo of WRYM's supporters last year, including Executive Director Greg Goulin (centre), looking cold, miserable but determined! (It was Greg's 70th birthday, hence the cake with the sparkler on it - was this any way for a senior citizen to behave?)
If you are sufficiently brave, determined and wonderful in many ways - and would like join in this year's WRYM's Rough Night Out on an industrial parking lot at 1350 St. Luke Road - we welcome you. In fact, it would be great if you can recruit a friend, or a bunch of friends, to join you!
Each WRYM's Rough Night Out participant uses the pledge sheet (download) to collect pledges from - let's say, five - of her or his friends and upon completion of their overnight vigil (8:00 AM Saturday morning) the pledges go to support WRYM's services for young homeless young men, while the volunteers go home to their warm beds because they didn't sleep all night.
Can't make it?
If you don't know anyone (including yourself) who thinks a "rough night out" is personally a good idea and if, in fact, you definitely choose electric light and central heating - don't worry - you can still help!
If you are curious as to the other ways you can help homeless young men build new lives, just visit WRYM's "Your Help" page at www.wrym.ca/your-help.html for more information. (Note - donations $20 and over receive a tax receipt.)
UPDATE - January 28!
Community donates $19,300 to match $13,000 given by formerly homeless youth
UPDATE - February 8! - Matching funds now total $23,000
Despite its success and unlike many other social agencies, WRYM receives very little government funding and depends on community fundraising. It is a constant challenge. WRYM offers the only supportive transitional housing program for young men in Windsor. Unlike an emergency shelter, drop-in centre or subsidized housing, the program provides young men 16 - 24 years with a supportive home, individual counselling, and basic life skills. Youths with potential are diverted from the streets to reconnect with their community, education and employment. WRYM’s 2019 statistics show an average 95 percent success rate over the past three years. In 2019, WRYM assisted 96 clients in its Transitional Housing, Aftercare and Outreach programs. Of these, 42 young men were enrolled and successfully graduated from the Transitional Housing Program.
Journalists - here is a print version of this update:
Former homeless youth pledges $13,000 to boost urgent funding appeal
Recognizing fundraising challenges, a former homeless youth has handed Windsor Residence for Young Men (WRYM) a guaranteed bank draft for $13,000 to boost its Transitional Housing Program – the program that helped him and so many others build new lives. The money will be used as matching funds to kickstart an urgent community fundraising appeal. For more information, visit WRYM’s January 2020 Urgent Funding Appeal at www.wrym.ca or contact Windsor Residence for Young Men.
“WRYM depends almost entirely on community donations, and he heard that our year-end fundraising was not as successful as we had hoped,” said WRYM’s Chair of Donor Development Dave Freeman. “He wants to inspire others to help, and he wants to remain anonymous.”
The Transitional Housing Program provides young men 16 - 24 years with a supportive home and individual counselling. It teaches basic life skills such as hygiene, food acquisition and preparation, budgeting, social responsibility and work ethic. The residents reconnect with their community, education and employment. They become empowered and productive full citizens. WRYM’s 2019 statistics show an average 95 percent success rate over the past three years. In 2019, WRYM assisted 96 clients in its Transitional Housing, Aftercare and Outreach programs. Of these, 42 young men were enrolled and successfully graduated from the Transitional Housing Program.
“This is the only supportive transitional housing program for young men in Windsor,” said Freeman. “It’s not an emergency shelter, drop-in centre or subsidized housing. It is an essential community program that diverts young men with potential from the streets at the earliest possible age. Overall, WRYM is a lifeline to about 20 percent of the local homeless population. Without it, not only will many of these vulnerable youths be lost to unemployment, substance abuse, sickness, violence, sexual assault and other crimes, but our community’s social agencies, emergency services, courts, families and taxpayers will face the consequences of not dealing with the challenges early on.
“The basic problem is that, although WRYM provides an absolutely essential community service, unlike other social agencies it receives very little government funding. When we opened our doors in 2012, many people did not want to recognize that young men could be vulnerable victims, that some demoralized victims can also become perpetrators, and that early intervention can benefit the entire community. Three agencies were providing good and essential transitional housing services for women, but there was nothing for young men. Senior government had frozen funding for any new agencies and so this basic inequity has been frozen in time for the past eight years.
“WRYM’s Transitional Housing Program is highly successful even though operations and staffing are cut to the bone. All funding goes directly to the program – we do not duplicate the services of other agencies, and administration and fundraising are done entirely by volunteers. Yet, every year we risk the collapse of transitional housing services for homeless young men in our community. We are doing our best to raise awareness of what WRYM does among elected officials and government funding and program administrators, while also continuing to appeal to citizens. I think Windsor can do better!”
For more information, visit WRYM’s website Your Help Page, Facebook site at www.facebook.com/windsorresidenceforyoungmen, or telephone 519.981.9917.
Journalists - here is a print version of this news release