NEW GLASGOW – Pictou County Roots for Youth is feeling the strain of a high demand coupled with a lack of funds.
Pictou County Roots for Youth offers homeless youth overnight accommodations as well as outreach programs in the community. AMANDA JESS – THE NEWS
They’ve been booked solid since before Christmas.
“This winter, we’ve been busier than ever before,” executive director David Porter says.
Porter says there’s no real reason for the influx. The teenagers who have come to their door looking for housing have been forced out of their homes, at times due to economic factors.
He says it’s stressful. They’re at capacity and running out of money.
They need to be able to supply bedding, food, staff as well as the self-esteem and job skill building programs they offer.
“We’re in the same situation as the people that come through the door,” Porter says in terms of having no money.
They’re trying to remain positive and modelling the same behaviour they teach their youth.
Coming out of crisis and into accomplishment starts with a positive attitude, they say.
One of their major programs, and most successful they say, is Girl Talk, which allows young women to voice their concerns with other women who have gone through the same thing in a safe setting.
It deals with topics such as self-esteem, relationships and teen pregnancy.
It is services like this that make the not-for-profit organization concerned about what would happen if they can’t find funding.
“What would the youth do if we have to eliminate services?” Dave Conrod asks, explaining that they wouldn’t have anywhere to turn for the same programs.
Most of their major fundraisers take place in the spring and summer, forcing them to look for other options.
They’ve been applying for grants to try to make things work until then.
They’re also considering doing family mediation to bring in revenue. They just need to find funds to train their staff.
From there, they would get their accreditation and begin advertising.
They see it as a proactive way to continue helping youth.
“If we can give mediation before the family breakdown, youth wouldn’t end up on the street,” Dave Conrod, project co-ordinator, says.
Through their own research, they say on any given night in Pictou County, there’s 72 homeless people.
They found there wasn’t enough information about homelessness in the area, which made them want to do their own.
The problem is a hidden one, and the numbers surprise people, they say.
That number includes people migrating through to other areas to find housing and work.
He says they have youth stopping in from Truro, Cape Breton and Antigonish often.
Porter says they’ve established themselves and people are aware of the centre’s existence.
Their Raise The Roof campaign has contributed to that.
The toques being sold at Scotiabank have helped to get the word out about homelessness in the county, Porter says.
Out of 1,000 toques, they have just over 200 left.
It’s set to wrap up on Feb. 4, “Toque Tuesday,” at NSCC.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda