Connections September 2023
My House Helps Youth Find Healing
My first son Lucas was born on December 18, 2002. I have such vivid memories of the first time I buckled him up in his car seat for the inaugural drive home. All those nasty statistics about motor vehicle accidents were flashing before my eyes as I took this fragile little life from the safety of the hospital and placed him into my little Honda Civic death machine. I recall snapping into an intense safety mode as I pulled out of the parking lot and onto the busy Vancouver streets. I’m sure I altered my driving habits so drastically that I likely put my family in even greater jeopardy. Thirteen years later and it won’t be long before my son is prying the car keys out of my hands to go for his first drive around town. There’s a scary thought—I’m placing an order for bubble wrap now.
At Youth Unlimited we take very seriously the need to provide safe places for all our youth in every one of our programs, be it a drop-in centre, indoor skateboard facility, the smoke pit just beyond school grounds, an art studio or our My House Shelter (featured in this issue). In all the places we serve, our staff and volunteers create a safe place for youth to get a meal and support, connect with others, explore their God-given gifts and discuss important issues related to their purpose and beliefs.
And so we thank you!
Your prayer and financial investment make it possible for our growing team of youth workers to provide the physical, emotional, social and spiritual safety necessary to enable young people to move from a place of vulnerability to a place of strength.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
Proverbs 11:14 (ancient book of wise sayings)
In so many ways Mission, BC is quintessential small town Canada. Aging storefronts line the streets of a city nestled quietly alongside the Fraser River that is home to a population of only 36,500. Yet beneath the surface lies an undercurrent of pervasive drug-use, homelessness, and exploitation that is engulfing the lives of young people. Through partnership within the Mission community, however, one small “house” is showing that concerned groups really can work together and rewrite the destiny of their most vulnerable citizens.
“Mission is a complicated place.” says Scott Guitard, Mission Youth Unlimited outreach worker and local youth pastor. “Drug use here is an epidemic. It’s on the streets, in drug houses, and in extensive interconnected underground networks.”
Kevin Wells, 25, knows that world well. Fully street entrenched until recently, Kevin was trapped in the vicious cycle of drug use. Lacking a stable home or reliable support system, he didn’t know where to go.
“I was broken,” he recalls. “Done. Everything in my life was a mess.” Then, this past summer, through a friend’s post on social media, Kevin learned about an invaluable resource opening up: The Mission Youth House—or MY House, as it’s often called.
Through Youth Unlimited, Kevin got connected, and he “hasn’t looked back since.”
“It was a place I could feel safe and be known” said Kevin. “The YU staff have backed me since day one. Hands down, they’ve changed my life.”
MY House is the result of a remarkable partnership. Three years ago, Youth Unlimited, community groups, social workers, the local government and concerned citizens assembled a committee aimed at helping homeless youth in Mission. Needs-assessment data indicated that a physical location, much like a house, would be best suited to meet the growing need. In response, one committee partner redirected a house slated for destruction and instead offered it as a resource. Youth Unlimited—along with seven partners—raised support for renovations, signed a memorandum of understanding for operation of the house, and MY House was born.
Today, Youth Unlimited manages the onsite operations and provides the bulk of the staffing while Mission Community Services owns the building.
From the outside, MY House is almost unimpressive. “It appears so ordinary you’d almost think there’d have to be more to it than what’s actually going on to warrant the impact it has had,” explains Scott.
“Apart from the fact that we have a medical office,” he says. “It’s set up just like a normal home.”
For the countless youth whose lives have been far from safe or normal, the “ordinary-ness” plays a significant role in why they keep coming back. It is also breaking the vicious cycle of drug use.
“Before, the youth were going to drug houses because they had nowhere else to go,” explains Scott. “They were hungry, so they would end up at drug houses just to get food. And then they were offered drugs and next thing you know they’re slipping into addiction and trapped in a world they never wanted to be a part of.”
“Places like MY House are important and pivotal in our community,” says Kevin. “Without something like this, homeless youth fall under a stigma of being undesirable and unwanted. But a safe and welcoming place to come, changes that. It’s cool to be able to come in, be part of something and be known and accepted. It truly feels like a family house.”
And not only has that family feel met physical needs, it’s opened doors for Youth Unlimited to listen and share about faith and God.“The youth who come in feel comfortable in the home setting and thus open and vulnerable to talk to you,” Scott recalls. This has led a lot of youth to ask us, ‘what’s different about you guys?’ They’ve started asking questions about God.”
And for some, like Kevin, they’ve seen MY House as part of a bigger story of God finding them. “I was separated and lost and he was able to find me,” he says. “Now that I’ve been found, I’m never going back.” Currently MY House is open during the day, Monday to Friday. The MY House family hopes to raise enough funds to remain open in the evenings and on weekends. The next big dream is to open an overnight shelter at a suitable location, so homeless youth have a place to sleep.
Twenty-Seventh Annual Youth Unlimited Golf Tournament
Join other golf lovers for a delightful 18-hole afternoon including lunch, festivities and followed by a delicious dinner and auction. This tournament’s emphasis is on having fun and is open to all levels of players.
Wednesday, June 1st, 12:00PM start
Redwoods Golf Course in Langley
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (604) 590-3759 for more.
“Not just a great day of golf, but also exposure to the great work of Youth Unlimited. This golf tournament is a highlight for me.” –James Epp, Fraserway RV
HGTV’s Timber Kings Support Youth Unlmited at the Giants!
On March 4th YU welcomed Peter, Andre and Beat from HGTV’s hit series, The Timber Kings, who partnered to champion YU at our annual Vancouver Giants event.
Known for creating the world’s most spectacular log homes, the Timber Kings brought high energy entertainment and helped support YU fundraising efforts with their custom cedar pucks.
A huge thanks to the Vancouver Giants for their fundraising and awareness-building support for YU.
Young Families Spring Gala
Join us on May 27th at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver rooftop for an incredible night of community, great food and live music from Soulstream!