Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 28, 2002
CSS sets $1.64M campaign goal
Agency wants to set up street youth program
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Catholic Social Services vows to set up a new program for street youth if it surpasses its Sign of Hope campaign goal by at least $60,000 this year.
The goal, announced by campaign chair John Liston at a news conference Oct. 22, is $1.64 million, of which 25 per cent, $412,000, has already been raised.
"If we are able to exceed our campaign goal this year, our agency is committed to starting Safe Passages, a new program to help those Safe House graduates who are struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle," explained CSS president Al Pierog.
"Many of these youth are homeless, two-thirds are single moms or are pregnant from the abuse on the streets and all are trapped in the degrading cycle of poverty," he said.
Since it opened in 1986, Safe House - the first residential treatment program opened in the province to meet the needs of street youth involved in prostitution - has helped nearly 1,350 youth between the ages of 12 and 18. The program offers safe refuge, information, addictions relief, professional counselling, social and outreach services.
According to Pierog, 20 per cent of the program graduates returned to street life and, in desperation, many of them have turned to abortion or given up their children to child welfare.
"And many have returned to prostitution in order to keep a roof over their heads, diapers on their babies and food on their tables and, tragically, many have attempted suicide."
Safe Passages will be an extension of Catholic Social Services' Supported Independent Living program, but will focus on youth who are having great difficulty in turning their lives around.
"We are talking about 20 per cent of our overall Safe House clients who are struggling the most to maintain a healthy lifestyle," said CSS spokesperson Marc Barylo. "And of that 20 per cent this year, we are dealing with 20 young people 16 years of age and over who have 15 children."
With that $60,000, CSS hopes to rent an apartment complex to provide safe housing, as well as financial, vocational, educational, emotional and social support services to at least six youths and their children for a period of one year.
"We are on the right track, (but) we need the community to step up its support."
- John Liston
"What we would try to do is insure that the apartments are furnished and there is a basic amount of food and so on in each of these apartments," Pierog said in answer to a question. "And we would have our staff provide outreach support within these apartments.
"The intent is to create a community of support for these youth so that they can use their own natural skills, their own natural resources, as well as our support, to stay in these apartments and go through a vocational and educational training (program) so they can turn their lives around."
The Sign of Hope campaign runs until Dec. 15 and Liston is confident the appeal will exceed its goal. "We can't not reach it: It's just too important for us," he said. "We are on the right track, (but) we need the community to step up its support."
Catholic parishes and the corporate community are also engaged in the campaign.