On Sunday, May 29 Christ Church Amherst, Nova Scotia welcomed special guest speakers Sarah MacMaster, Executive Director of Maggie’s Place Family Resource Center, and Alison Lair, Manager of Community Development Cumberland YMCA for the launch of this year’s Say Yes! to Kids campaign to support unhoused youth.
“This is the biggest outreach into the community we have done since we helped to start the food bank 34 years ago,” said the Rev. Will Ferrey, Rector. “As awareness about the affordable housing crisis in our region grows, the people of Christ Church Amherst are committed to taking action to support young people who are experiencing homelessness or who are insecurely housed.”
Sarah MacMaster shed light on the “complicated” and often “unsafe” lifestyles that Maggie’s Place outreach workers are observing among their community’s unhoused youth. MacMaster also reminded those gathered that the youth housing crisis cannot always be easily seen. “Unhoused or homeless youth may not be visible. They may be staying with friends, and relatives or sleeping in different areas of the county from night to night.”
MacMaster spoke of the help that organizations like the Youth Development Center can provide. “We can offer these young people a safe place to land and hope for the future by connecting them with community resources, and meeting some of their basic needs like food, a shower, and laundry facilities.”
The key, she said, is to establish safety first. “Until safe and secure housing needs are met it is difficult to move forward in other areas. We all need a stable foundation to build our lives on and this is true for our youth.”
It is in growing that stable foundation where the people of Christ Church hope to make a difference with the Say Yes! to Kids campaign. Proceeds from this year’s fundraiser will help to launch a Youth Navigation Fund in partnership with Maggie’s Place. The fund will give youth outreach workers the freedom and flexibility to bridge gaps, reduce barriers and tailor support to meet individual needs.
“Everybody understands that sometimes you need to help people fast,” said Ferrey, “and this fund will do that.” Campaign proceeds will also drive a widespread volunteer training effort to equip the community-at-large to work with vulnerable youth. “We can envision a number of supportive programs that build on the good work being done by our community partners,” said Ferrey, “but we need to make sure we are ready to do what is truly good and helpful in the development and delivery of services in our community.”
The special service and campaign launch was attended by 44 faithful parishioners and guests at Christ Church. Ferrey explained, “It was an important opportunity for the people of our parish to hear what is really going on in our community. Our eyes were opened to the reality of the housing crisis in Amherst. There is deep need to support unhoused people, especially young people, from all sectors of society. We are glad to be able to partner with organizations in our community to offer some help where it is needed.”
Christ Church Amherst has already raised $2,000 towards their $15,000 goal and the campaign has only just begun. Anyone wanting to support their team can contact the Rev. Will Ferrey at [email protected] or donate online to the Christ Church Amherst Says Yes! to Kids donation page at www.canadahelps.org/s/n2tZTg.
For more information contact:
The Rev. Will Ferrey, Rector, Christ Church Amherst
Phone: (902) 669-1145
Email: [email protected]