2023 Annual Report
Four years ago, Youth Unlimited outreach worker Tim Gadd, and his wife Christine, were setting up the school breakfast program in the wee hours of the morning, when one of the helpers noticed two shy girls huddled inside the school, despite it being several hours before school started. She invited them to join YU’s breakfast program. Tim sat with the girls for breakfast and learned they are sisters, Bryanne and Ellie Lane, who were daily dropped off early so their mom could get to work on time. A kindly janitor would open a door early so the girls could stay warm inside.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, you can find Tim and a group of volunteers often joined by Christine, at Maple Ridge Secondary School, coordinating this breakfast program for over 100 youth. In 2014 Bryanne Lane became a crucial member of the breakfast team.
On a basic level, the program provides nourishment for the day. “Pancakes, sausages, french toast and breakfast sandwiches,” says Bryanne referring to her first YU breakfast. “The meal was hot and delicious!”
More than a much-needed meal, the breakfast also meets youth’s needs for community and connection. “I loved going there every morning,” she explains. “Tim really made me feel like I had somewhere to be that wanted me there.”
Since 2012, Youth Unlimited has made the program available to any high school student who wants to join. By removing restrictions based on need, any potential stigma is minimized. “The program provides a place where everyone is welcome,” says Bryanne. “They didn’t choose who was invited, but opened their doors to all students.”
For Bryanne, the community helped give her a sense of belonging at a time when challenges at home were significant.
“It was hard watching my mom be so scared and not knowing what was going to happen for us,” explains Bryanne, with deep admiration. “But even when times were tough and trials would arise, my mom would take the pain and learn from it. It made her stronger. She taught us to do the same.” She adds joyfully, “I really hit the jackpot with her.”
Bryanne clearly embodied that same beautiful strength she admires in her mom. Tim recalls seeing Bryanne’s leadership skills emerge almost immediately. She became the program’s first student volunteer! “She served with joy, inviting other students to join with her in serving,” says Tim, “contributing to making our community even stronger.”
“It is such a needed program,” says Bryanne. “And there are so many kids that go to school without eating.”
Tim and Christine’s mentorship in Bryanne’s life culminated in a life-giving opportunity. “Every year Tim and Christine lead a group of students on a road trip to California,” says Bryanne, “And during my grade eleven year, they asked me.” She worked hard to fundraise by collecting recyclable bottles. When spring arrived, Bryanne found herself in a van bursting with 15 other youth. “It was the trip of a lifetime,” she says. This spring, Bryanne’s youngest sister, Carina will get her turn to take the trip.
Bryanne continued to volunteer with YU until her graduation in spring 2017. Today, her heart for service continues as she cultivates her leadership skills at Douglas College where she is pursuing a teaching degree. She plans to continue the mentorship modelled by Tim and Youth Unlimited.
“Tim really went the extra mile for that program and he has such a kind, warm heart,” says Bryanne. “He’s definitely a role model for how I want to be.” Grades 11 and 12 are important years to teach a0nd impact lives. I want to make sure everyone makes it through those years because they are so crucial.”
Research shows that one in five Canadian children go to school hungry every day. As a result, Youth Unlimited runs breakfast programs and provides hot meals to over 600 kids each week in five of the seven public high schools across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. They are supported by over 30 volunteers and with backing from churches, donors, community grants and generously donated products from Anita’s Mill and Golden Valley. The nutrition, relationships and community the program continues to foster is impossible to measure, but Bryanne’s flourishing is living proof.
Congratulations to Barry McLeod
Youth Unlimited is proud to congratulate outreach worker Barry McLeod for being nominated for ‘Citizen of the Year’ by the District of Mission for his decades of outstanding service with Youth Unlimited in the Mission community. Youth Unlimited was also named as a finalist for ‘Non-Profit Organization of the Year’ by the Maple Ridge Chamber of Commerce. The Maple Ridge YU team is well known for their outstanding work with high school breakfast programs across the city.
YU Selected as Art! Vancouver’s Charity of Choice
Youth Unlimited has been given the distinct honour of being Art! Vancouver’s 2018 Charity of Choice. Art! Vancouver hosts a first-class international art fair featuring artwork from across Canada and around the globe, April 19-22. This opportunity allows YU to connect youth and their art to a wider audience and increase YU’s profile in the wider community. To attend one or more days visit www.artvancouver.net.
Lifeteams is Accepting Applications!
Do you have a passion to work with youth in Canada and see their lives transformed? Youth Unlimited’s Lifeteams education program specializing in community youth work is accepting applications for the fall 2018 intake. Based in community-living, young adults spend eight months being equipped in relational youth work and experience-based learning while obtaining college-level courses and mentorship. Unlike anything else in Canada, this program both stretches and engages individuals beyond what they could imagine and prepares students for a life of youth ministry.
To apply for the 2018/2019 year visit www.lifeteams.ca/apply.
I will never forget the day when Child and Family Services released a quiet, disheveled and neglected eight-year-old boy into my parents’ care. In preparation for this day, my mom cooked up a glorious meal and set the table with great care. My folks wanted Jared (not his real name) to feel loved and cared for and that this new home would be a place of hope and healing for him. The whole family sat down, my dad blessed the meal and we were ready to dive in. Suddenly, Jared spoke up and with a strong, assertive voice and said, “I only eat hotdogs!”
“Excuse me, you only eat hotdogs?” My parents calmly explained that hotdogs were not on the menu that night and wouldn’t be for a week or more. Jared’s response? “Well, I’m not eating then.” His hunger strike lasted about two days. Soon he was eating every meal that flowed from the Koop Kitchen. My folks knew that good nutrition would be essential to the care of this young boy. Jared was in our home for years. The arrangement with his dad and Child and Family Services had him going home every weekend. Without fail, we would pick Jared up Sunday night and he would be starving, as there was rarely any food in his fridge, except maybe hotdogs.
It’s easy for us to assume that all youth in our communities are well fed. Most of us don’t see kids on the street corners begging for food. Yet, in our care of vulnerable youth, we have become increasingly aware of this need to provide for the nutritional needs of youth. It is an essential part of whole person care.
I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. (v.36) Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me. (v.40)
Real love for God and people must be expressed in tangible ways. All across our Chapter, our youth workers eat heaps of meals with young people. One example is our breakfast clubs. In this edition of Connections, you will see the impact our team is having in the lives of youth as we serve up breakfast and connect with youth over a meal.
Thank you for making this possible. Your generous financial support enables us to bring hope and healing to youth through healthy meals—which may at times include the occasional hotdog.