Working to Create a Safe, Sober, Space for Teens in Their Community

Teenagers need to belong and feel accepted, and they need to know that someone cares for them, or better yet, that the entire community cares for them.

The City of Surrey hosted the ‘Surrey Steps Up Awards’, on May 2, 2014, at the brand new Surrey City Hall, where Mayor Diane Watts honored Surrey teens who are making a positive difference in their community.

A group of teens at the awards from “The Youth Space Project”, is making a difference in the White Rock/South Surrey area.  The group set up a mini youth space in the lobby of Surrey City Hall, complete with cozy couches, fun games, and snacks, and invited people to come and hang out with them.

Youth collective building a space for youth at Surrey Steps Up 2014

Their dream is to create a badly needed ‘youth space’ in their own community, and they are reaching out to the larger community to make their dream a reality.  Tayla, one of the teens says: “there’s nothing for teens to do in our area”.  She is looking for sponsorship for a youth space, where teens can participate in fun activities together.  Grace is also working on the youth space project, but she looked more solemn, saying:  “a lot of our friends have died from drugs”.  “We need a safe, sober place to hangout, where we feel accepted and can express ourselves in a positive way” she says.

youth space project

Example of what a youth space would look like

The group is currently accepting donations to create an environment where teens can get together after school. Alexandra Neighborhood House, and the local RCMP, agree with the need for a youth space, and are encouraging the teens to ask individuals and businesses in the community to take the opportunity to invest in them, show they care, spread some goodwill in the community, and receive a tax deduction at the same time.

With so many new families moving into the area, the demographic trend is toward a younger population, and they need a safe place to work on their resumes for their job search, meet new friends, or explore volunteer opportunities in their community, that would aid in keeping youth off the streets and away from harm.

Their goal is to secure a space by this fall.  The ideal location for the youth space is the vicinity of 152nd St and 18th Ave.   If you can help them by providing a building (approx. 2500 square feet), that can be converted into a youth space, please contact Jessie Kergan – Youth and Family worker at Alexandra House.  jkergan@alexhouse.net.  Alexandra House will process all donations and issue a tax receipt to businesses or individuals who sponsor the project.

Top Photo: Surrey Youth

Bottom Photo: photo pin/creative commons.

Philanthropy For Lunch

The winners of Brett Wilson’s Vancouver Lunch Contest, do not need introductions to Brett, all ten of us recognize him instantly from The Dragon’s Den tv show, as he arrives at The Cibo Trattoria on Feb 28, 2014, wearing an animated Robert Graham designer shirt, accompanied by his lovely daughter.

Cibo Trattoria

Cibo Trattoria

He sits at the head of the table, entertaining us with anecdotes from his life, and sprinkles in highlights from the business conference he attended in L.A. the previous day. His enthusiasm energizes our eclectic group, in the stylish secluded room of the restaurant.

In his book, Redefining Success, Still Making Mistakes, Brett shares his story, and at Cibo, he invites us to share our stories, and gives us his full attention when we speak. The stories of our journeys go deep at times, and include “laughter and tears”, as Brett said.

Brett responds with a generous helping of wisdom, gleaned from years of experience working in the stratosphere of the Canadian investment banking scene, his role on The Dragon’s Den, and from his experiences with his family.

Sharing our stories is a cathartic release of emotion that bonds the group, despite our varied ages, genders, and professions.

It quickly establishes a rapport, which creates common ground between twelve people that were previously strangers.

Brett conducts the tempo of the luncheon like an expert, guiding the ensemble, as we enjoy a delicious lunch and friendship, and chat like a big family.

I feel grateful to be here, aware that tables for Brett’s fundraisers, like the one he organized under the sails at Canada Place in Vancouver go for $25,000.00 each, and high profile stars, like Gene Simmons from KISS, and wife Shannon Tweed are in attendance.

Ann with Brett Wilson

Ann with Brett Wilson

The lunch meeting was orchestrated so smoothly, as if Brett has been conducting luncheons his whole life. Witnessing that level of leadership will take me a while to process.

Before we head home to our various cities and communities, he autographs our books, and poses for pictures with us.

As I walk over to Richards Street, I try to figure out the meaning of the lunch for me, and the ingredient that bonded the lunch guests together.

As I walk in front of The Holy Rosary Cathedral on Richards Street, I have an epiphany.

The French Gothic style heritage building reveals the meaining of the luncheon.

art on Canadian stamp

Guido Nincheri art on Canadian stamp 1997 Holy Rosary Cathedral

This was my Mom’s church in the 1990’s, and when they needed a new roof, she donated $5,000.00 to the roof fund, which was a large sum for her.

Aha! It was about philanthropy. He did not preach to the congregation, he connected us, informed and entertained us, rewarded us with lunch, and empowered us to go change the world, by stepping up and spreading the seeds of philanthropy in the community.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing” – Albert Schweitzer

I had never realized that my mom was my original philanthropy mentor, when she took me on The Mother’s March as a child to raise money for the charity. Or, when I saw her giving bus fare to every hitchhiker she saw, so they would take a bus instead of getting in a car with a stranger. Sometimes small acts can change the course of someone’s life.

She gave either her time, or her talent, or her treasure, the three t’s, to express her gratitude for the gifts she was given.

To her, philanthropy would have seemed like a big word to describe it , but it takes a big heart to “love all of mankind”. I think she would have called it caring for others, or in a word ‘love’.

Copy this link to Read My Review of Brett’s book: http://annhoy.com/redefining-success-still-making-mistakes-book-review-by-ann-hoy/

http://www.holyrosarycathedral.org/stewardship/

photo by Clayton
photo of Cibo by Ann