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Eva’s Initiatives, Sprott Foundation and Virgin Unite Announce St. Catharines Winner for 2013 Award for Ending Youth Homelessness

The Niagara Resource Service for Youth recognized for excellence in working to prevent youth homelessness

ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO – Oct. 15, 2013 – Eva’s Initiatives, the Sprott Foundation and Virgin Unite are pleased to announce that the Niagara Resource Service for Youth (RAFT) is one of four winners of The Eva’s Initiatives Award for Ending Youth Homelessness. Valued at $25,000, the award recognizes the success of RAFT in working with at-risk youth.

“This Canadian awards program puts the spotlight on initiatives that actively work to prevent and end youth homelessness,” explained Maria Crawford, Executive Director of Eva’s Initiatives. “We are thrilled to be celebrating RAFT’s achievements as an example of how to support youth who are at risk of homelessness. Youth Reconnect aims to keep precariously housed youth in school and connected to their community. Working in partnership with local agencies, this homelessness prevention program helps youth access resources, increase their self-sufficiency, and live independently or re-unite with family.”

“The Niagara Resource Service for Youth is honoured to be selected as a winner of the Eva’s Award for Ending Youth Homelessness” says Executive Director, Michael Lethby. “This national recognition highlights the partnerships and dedication that are required to operate a successful program. Ensuring that no youth becomes homeless simply because they lack access and understanding of a system is its own great reward.”

In 2008, RAFT started Youth Reconnect in an effort to prevent youth from requiring emergency shelter services. The program aids approximately 300 youth a year. These youth are in danger of becoming homeless and having to leave their home communities in order to access shelter. By doing so they also have to leave school and any supports they might still have (friends, teachers, and relatives). During this time they are at greater risk of victimization simply due to having to relocate for services. This often leads to increased hospitalization, criminal involvement, and addictions.

“The unique solutions that organizations like RAFT use to prevent youth homelessness are exactly what Virgin Unite is looking to support through Eva’s Awards program,” said Tricia Keller, Virgin Unite Director. “We applaud the innovative work that RAFT has done in the community and look forward to seeing their successes shared with other organizations across Canada.”

The award winners for 2013, from four different regions of the country, challenge us to think beyond the emergency needs of youth and instead find ways to equip them to achieve greater success in multiple domains of their life, from housing to employment, to education and social integration, for example. The other three winners are:

  • Les Habitations Escalier for La ferme Aux Champêtreries (Montreal)
  • Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Youth and partners for Project STEP (Ottawa)
  • YWCA Metro Vancouver for YWCA Crabtree Corner Housing (Vancouver)

A seven member panel, knowledgeable about services for homeless youth, selected the winners from among more than 65 applications that demonstrated a wide array of impressive and innovative projects underway in communities across the county.

An event to present the award to RAFT will be held on October 15th from 2:30-4pm at the Holiday Inn & Suites Parkway Conference Centre, 327 Ontario St. in St. Catharines.

The Eva’s Initiatives Award for Ending Youth Homelessness is generously sponsored by the Sprott Foundation in collaboration with Virgin Unite.


Eva’s Initiatives
Melanie Redmond
Director, National Initiatives
416 977 4497 x 127
[email protected]

Niagara Resource Service for Youth
Michael Lethby
Executive Director
[email protected]