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Pictou County Roots for Youth celebrate progress, community engagement at AGM

Anne MacGregor congratulates members of the with Pictou County Roots for Youth Society for their many achievements in the past year at the society’s AGM on Wednesday evening.
Anne MacGregor congratulates members of the with Pictou County Roots for Youth Society for their many achievements in the past year at the society’s AGM on Wednesday evening. - Sam Macdonald

NEWS GLASGOW

Pictou County Roots for Youth has come into its own as an effective, connected organization in helping to combat youth homelessness and get people back up on their feet.

At the organization’s annual general meeting, program director Stacey Dlamini spoke in a report to members about many achievements and milestones, noting that Roots for Youth has helped 55 youth end their homelessness since July 2015. This year, Roots has helped 29 young people in need of somewhere to stay – an increased demand.

In spite of challenges such as arrests, demand overruns, and other issues that arise among people struggling in life, Dlamini said, “what makes me so proud of this team, is that we keep trying. We keep showing up for each other and for our youth. We keep our doors open every day… so that young people know they can count on us to be there.

“At Roots for Youth, we deal with young people who often have had difficulty experiences in their past. They come to us at low points in their lives, and we do our best to help them put the pieces back together again,” said Dlamini. “They don’t always make good choices … and sometimes they do. And when they do, that makes it all worth it.”

Dlamini said Roots for Youth added two new transition houses, increasing capacity to help those in need of a place to stay from four beds to 10. The transition houses constitute a place where youth can stay, paying rent based on their income.

Working with a success plan, youth “can stay in the house up to 12 months. At present, we have two residents in the men’s house, and two in the female house,” Dlamini said.

Through partnerships like the ones with the Department of Community Services, Roots for Youth has been able to provide services such as employability workshops, and fundraisers such as Coldest Night of the Year, and Routes to Riches, Roots for Youth have increased the amount of money for programs.

Guest speaker Ann MacGregor with Hector Broadcasting, a participant in many of the fundraisers, spoke highly of the achievements she witnessed. She gave accolades to Roots for Youth for motivating people to participate, noting “it’s so uplifting to see people come together and lend their support.
“From my point of view, I see hope. It’s uplifting to attend these fundraising events, to watch many volunteers helping to make things better. It’s especially heartwarming to get young people involved, knowing they will carry those experiences in helping to give back throughout their lives,” said MacGregor.

Other milestones achieved in the past year include obtaining ongoing funding and building relationships with other community groups from around the province, making strides in fighting human trafficking – a crime Pictou County is not immune to – and expanding the reach of the organization to help people at risk.

Dlamini alluded to the many successes, describing how a young lady who stayed at Roots for Youth started with them in August, facing addiction issues, “but wanted a new start.” Dlamini described how that individual progressed, helped by income assistance, and the transition house and support of staff, to the point where she has overcome her problems and will be moving out, with a job, at the end of the month.

Dlamini said Roots for Youth will “spearhead the conversation about anti-human trafficking in our community… help unemployed people break the generational cycles of poverty through our employability skills training and workshops,” and work to make volunteers feel valued and appreciated.
This year, the board of directors remains largely unchanged for the Pictou County Roots for Youth Society, with one addition: Taylor-Jane Harvey as a youth representative.

According to a statement of financial position read at the meeting by treasurer Allan Davis, Roots for Youth is on strong and steadily improving financial footing.
Total income for the year 2017 – from fundraising, donations, government funding and local support – increased from 124,685 in 2016, to $183,527. Roots for Youth saw a total end-of-year 2017 surplus of $161,949.

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