Youth Unlimited would not exist today without our founding volunteers. Nor would it flourish without volunteers generously investing, supporting staff to help make it run. From cooks and bakers to snowboard instructors, from board members to compassionate listeners — the serving community is woven into YU’s fabric.

This issue explores the inspiring stories of three incredible volunteers.




When she retired, Sylvia didn’t think twice about helping homeless youth at the MY House program in Mission. “The more adults these kids can rely on, the better,” says Sylvia, who was a high school receptionist for 40 years until last October. “I get a sense of fulfillment from caring for people – and these youths need safe people.”
       Initially the retirement transition was hard. “I was having a hard time leaving the kids,” she explains, “but once I started volunteering, my life changed and I was happy again.”
       Sylvia’s commitment and consistency is building trust. The youth can see that she cares and genuinely wants to be there. “They’re getting to really know me now, and trust me,” she says. “I would never miss a shift. It means a lot to them to have that consistent person.”
       Through her investment, Sylvia gets the reward of learning the youth’s stories and watching their walls fall. “The kids are different people on the street,” she says, “but they’re themselves with us.”

Nearby, in Maple Ridge, Brenda and Dennis, are pouring out the same care and support through a robust breakfast program. Dennis, formerly YU’s Maple Ridge Area Director for 18 years, and Brenda, an eight-year volunteer, consistently run the program each week.
       “Mostly I cook and serve,” says Brenda, “but sometimes kids will pop by and chat. Sometimes they vent or cry a little, sometimes they just hang out. I don’t always know what to say, but I can just listen.”
       As a former alternative school student who learned to cook at school, Brenda felt called to help. “When I heard about the work Youth Unlimited is doing in these schools, I just had to go and help.” she says. “It’s been eight years and I love it.”



Sylvia, a valued MY House volunteer helps support the youth and creates a homely atmosphere.



Volunteers: Brenda (L), Dennis (M) and YU staff, Maureen (R).



       Like most volunteers, Brenda signed up because she was motivated to serve, but she got so much more in return — a sense of family. Brenda felt genuinely invested in and cared for by YU’s staff and volunteers, and that’s only strengthened over time.
       “I’ve volunteered with other organizations who have treated me poorly, but with Maureen and Dennis I feel loved. They’re always open and they’re there for me.” This is rewarding feedback as YU’s mission is to create flourishing communities and nurture loving relationships — with youth and others.

Over the bridge in Abbotsford is Jonathan, a youth pastor at Bakerview church, who was compelled to step beyond financial investment and into wholistic, relational involvement. Jonathan became actively involved in YU frontline work, supporting and being supported by YU youth worker, Greg. Three years and many basketball and drop-in club nights later, these men are a solid team, mentoring boys in Abbotsford.
       “As a kid, having mentors outside of family members invest in me was formative,” says Jonathan. “From my observation, not many teens have that kind of support. There aren’t many chances for adults to be both an authoritative figure and a mentor.”
       Through these types of relationships youth can explore different perspectives, and Jonathan appreciates the opportunity to help challenge the societal expectations impacting young boys.



Volunteer With Us!

Post-pandemic, we are rebuilding our volunteer support. It’s a great place to make a meaningful impact. Some placements require a lot of time, some just a little. Visit to learn more or apply.

*As GVYU works with minors and traumatized youth, vetting and determining appropriate placements are a part of the process. Many placements do not involve direct youth work.



       “Hearing a middle schooler name their emotions is really cool,” he says. “Recently, I saw two boys fighting, and when I came over they instantly dropped it, but I just asked, ‘What’s up?’ and gave them space to talk.” Jonathan explains. “I’m passionate about demonstrating to kids that adults can be safe people to talk to about their frustrations, rather than feeling the need to be violent toward each other.”

Jonathan has dedicated much of his adult life to the youth in his





After a three-year hiatus, the Young Families Spring Gala is back! Join the team on April 29 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for a night of live music, mingling and dancing. Learn more about your impact and celebrate our community of supporters and the resilient young mothers and fathers Young Families supports. For tickets and more info:




The Creative Life art program in Langley has been shuttered since the pandemic began, and we need your help. The team needs volunteers and a new space to restart this incredible, creative and supportive program. Functioning as a safe place for youth to express themselves and gain community, Creative Life is a valuable piece of the Langley YU ecosystem. If you have a space you think might be a fit, are artistically inclined, or just want to get involved, contact Langley Area Director Jon Pue at


Clean the clubs and call your foursome! The 33rd Annual GVYU Golf Tournament is coming this spring. We are thrilled to be hosted by Abbotsford’s Ledgeview Golf Club on May 30, 2023, for a beautiful day on the greens, raising funds to support youth in our community. To register: Interested in sponsorship? Send a message to











I am struggling right now.

I’m struggling to find the words to describe what my family and I have been through these past eight months. I’m naturally a positive person, always looking on the bright side of things, sometimes to a fault. So as I reflect, I’m tempted to polish up our recent experiences, make comparisons to others and generally minimize our struggle — but I won’t.

My wife Sherri has cancer. It’s scary and it sucks. I’m learning to sit with the feelings of fear, uncertainty and anger (to name a few). I’m also learning to not “silver line” the feelings that Sherri and our boys have expressed. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s necessary.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” – Matthew 5:4

It’s been so beautiful to have friends, family and neighbours volunteer to cook meals for us and support us through prayer, words of encouragement, rides to appointments and other thoughtful and very generous gifts and offerings.

We are blessed in our loss.

The community around us, is an indescribable gift. We couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) get through this without them. They have given so much of themselves to see us through our challenges. We will get through this, together.

When I think about the vulnerable youth in our communities, it’s no different. Without hundreds of people volunteering their time to mentor, supply meals, pray, provide maintenance for buildings and vehicles, stuff envelopes, give generously, and advocate on our behalf, we wouldn’t be able to help young people flourish in all areas of their life. We are in this together.

In this edition of Connections, we celebrate our amazing volunteer community who give so generously to bless the lives of the youth we serve.

With immense gratitude,




Mark Koop

Executive Director