Roots for Youth in need of funding

Kayla Fraser
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The Roots for Youth organization is in a rough spot right now, but hopes to become a self-sustaining organization in a few years.

David Porter, executive director for Roots for Youth

They have lost two of major funding sources and had to cut back six staff members, said executive director David Porter.

The staff at the house has gone from seven workers in February down to one, he said.

The funders are going through a Homeless Partnership Strategy to review the programs they fund, he said.

“Normally, they would have had their funding decisions made in January, and we would have been all right, here at the Roots House. However that deadline was pushed back. We don’t know when. So that really put us into a bind.”

On a better note, they are trying to work out a sustainability plan to be independent and still help the youth.

“There has been a number of cutbacks, and of course, with more cutbacks, there is more of a need for our service. We’re trying to make sure that we still can provide quality service during the time of cutbacks.”

He said they are asking a lot from their volunteers right now, which is stressful.

The Roots for Youth is an emergency shelter for youth struggling with homelessness or family issues. They also help to address to social and mental needs of youth aged 16 to 24. They run programs to talk with youth and help about 50 people on a weekly basis.

They are working hard to prevent adolescent homelessness.

“One main thing that we tackle is the chaos in the family structure, or in the youth’s life, because you can imagine if you’re going to be homeless, there’s going to be chaos, there is reason you’re going to be leaving your home. So we deal with that with the youth to help them understand how to control, to at least help the kids understand and control the chaos that’s going on. That way they can see different options and different methods of ensuring that they stay within the family unit.”

Porter said if the house wasn’t open, people like Cody Curtis couldn’t come and use the housing amenities.

20-year-old Curtis is from Alberta, but now lives at the house and has a new job.

“They’re very nice, very respectful. They do their job very well,” he said.

Porter said they help youth try to find jobs and give them a chance to take care of themselves in the house.

“It’s great that we have services in our town to help people like him [Curtis], but when you’re in the streets, getting up in the morning and being ready and showered with something to eat, just doesn’t exist at the level of their need.”

They have had people from Cape Breton, Antigonish and Truro come and stay with them, he said.

“It’s not just here, in New Glasgow or in Pictou County. We deal with homelessness all over northern Nova Scotia, and this is part of our problem, is people just think we deal with it here in the county, and it’s just not so.”

He said they are trying to focus on being self-sustainable.

“We understand that we cannot keep asking the community for money, we understand the donor fatigue that’s out there… We have to be responsible to the community to stop asking for funds and finding a way to be self-sustainable.”

They need the support now to get back on their feet in hopes to become self-sustainable in the next few years.

“It’s not just tiring for the community here, but its also tiring for us to keep asking. And we’ve got to stop asking. But unfortunately, we’re at this situation where we’re not self sustainable yet, we’re in that point of being a hypocrite where we understand we shouldn’t ask, but we have to ask.”

He said they’re in a difficult situation right now, but with the community’s help, they can get back on their feet.

Porter said he would like to thank the support of the United Way, the LifeCenter and other service clubs they’re received support from.

Organizations: Roots, Homeless Partnership Strategy, Roots House United Way

Geographic location: Alberta, Cape Breton, New Glasgow Pictou County Northern Nova Scotia

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