Scott Guitard is a youth worker in Mission and helps run the Mission Youth House (MY House)

Q: How have MY House operations changed since this started?
A: At first we were a pick-up point for meals, groceries and supplies, where youth could also access showers, laundry, toiletries and harm-reduction items. In May, the location transitioned into a 24-hour youth shelter.

Q: What are the main needs of your youth right now?
A: The number one need is food and personal check-ins. Quite a few of the youth I serve moved into a house in Mission. I am there three times a week with food hampers and once a week with the team and counsellors. Many of these youth left their foster care homes. It’s a growing concern. On one weekend alone, police responded to four overdoses there. We provided Narcan lessons and harm reduction items.





Q: How are you holding up?
A: It’s exhausting. It feels like it never ends. There’s no 9 to 5 anymore. Texts come in constantly. During the day, I’m at MY House or running drops, then I’ll eat dinner with my family and after I try to be present online, joining the requests for gaming or to talk.

Q: Are there positives coming out of this?
A: Yes. I think an extra layer of trust is being built. Struggling teenagers nowadays often talk more over text and video than in person. They can see that and it helps them open up. We’ve also been helping people who have lost their jobs, to access government funding.








Sandra Reilly is a youth worker and counsellor in Maple Ridge



Q: What are you doing now to engage with youth?
A: We cook virtually together, enjoy meals and talk about everything. One of my youth was missing our weekly breakfast program terribly, so we made a 10 pancake stack and delivered it to her home!

Q: Tell me about youth work hitting home.
A: In March, I got a call from one of my youth, I’ll call them Sam [Sam prefers non-gender specific pronouns]. They were in distress. They had left home several days prior and didn’t know where to go. Sam had only a school bag, a phone and the clothes on their back.


As we chatted, it became clear that home was not safe and COVID had diminished most of Sam’s options. After a talk with the Ministry, it became obvious that my home was the only real option.

Sam has shared that living in our home is the first time experiencing regular meals at the table together. It was also a safe space to talk about emotions, receive empathy, feel appreciated and be given the freedom to ask about faith. Sam is managing the new homeschool system and their part-time job well and recently opened a bank account.





Amanda Ratzlaff works with the Street Life program in East Vancouver

Q: How is the Street Life RV used during social distancing?
A: We’re starting a hot meal program. Save On Meats is preparing the meals, and we’ll serve
them and also hand out basic hygiene items.

Q: Give us a snapshot of what youth work is like now?
A: It is still heart-wrenching and wonderful—just different mediums. One of my youth
recently had a birthday. I asked if I could bring over a cake. When I got to their door, they
said, “I was not expecting this. You brought me a whole cake…A WHOLE CAKE!” The 23
year-old teared up and said: “I realized today I only have two years left until I age out of
everything [foster care and supports]. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”




Andrew Chong is a youth worker and the North Shore Area Director

Q: What positive outcomes have occurred since the pandemic?
A: Sometimes it has actually allowed for deeper conversations. Maybe because there’s no coffee shop
interruptions, like staff taking away a plate, or a friend saying hi. And maybe video chat from your
own bedroom feels safer for some.

I remember in the first week, I was talking with one of our longer-term youth, and we had the deepest conversation we’d ever had.

We talked about her brother and why he loves Jesus and what happened when he went to Keats Camp: did he experience some fake spiritual hypnotism or was he actually connecting with something? We talked about her questions and I shared my testimony. I decided I’d ship her Mark Clark’s book, The Problem of God, to address some questions on science and faith.

Q: What growth have you seen?
A: I’m so proud of two of our boys, even though progress is slow. One is trying to be successful in his new landscaping job, but it’s extremely difficult as his mental health is frail and he is always tired. On our regular Friday three-way phone call, he shared he was so tired and had nothing left. The other boy, with his own share of struggles, chimed-in to say, “I’m here for you, just like Andrew said he’s here for you—call me, anytime.” Quarantine has not stopped the growth of these two young men.








Youth from across Greater Vancouver have dug deep to get creative and encourage the community. On June 16, comedian John Cullen will host the YU Viral Video contest during a live show streamed on YouTube. We’d be so honoured to have you check out the best of the best of the hilarious, heartwarming, creative and incredible videos created by youth across Greater Vancouver. You’ll be voting for the winners!


CityFest was a huge success, despite having to move the 5,000-person event online. Hundreds of youth submitted their talented entries and 170 prizes were awarded. “It’s one of the best, if not the best, youth-run events in our province,” said North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan. “It’s for youth, by youth, and showcases so much talent while drawing people from all over. Thank you very much for everything that you’re doing.”


We were blown away by the love and support for our Young Families program. The annual gala providing critical funding had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, and instead many components went online — and you showed up! We raised $62,293 of the $100,000 goal to provide counselling and a safe, caring and supportive environment for parenting youth. We still have the shortfall to make up, so if you missed you chance to give, visit:


YU’s annual Golf Tournament at Redwoods Golf Course has moved to September 8, 2020! Visit for updates.





As a kid I use to have arguments with my cousin about who was the toughest superhero of all. His answer? Spiderman, but for me it was definitely The Hulk. I mean, come on — The Hulk would easily squash that little spider bug.

In the 80’s I was fascinated by a more down to earth TV hero: a blonde, curly haired school teacher who went out of his way to inspire troubled students. As the storyline goes, this everyday teacher one day discovered a superhero suit from outer space and became a hero outside the classroom as well. Unfortunately, he lost the instructions to the suit and was constantly flying into stuff. He was easy to laugh at, but he made a difference in peoples’ lives as well. I even gave myself a Toni Perm to look just like him. He was the “The Greatest American Hero.” Side note: Best TV theme song ever!

Most of us never see ourselves as heroes. Even someone who has saved a kid from drowning doesn’t usually see themselves as a hero, but we certainly would.

In times of crisis, the heroes step forward.

We are in an unparalleled global crisis right now and the heroes are stepping forward. At YU, that hero is you! With the increased demands and financial hardship, you have continued to pray and invest financially in the lives of our vulnerable youth. You are our heroes.

Some of you have lost all income and so financial investment is not an option at this time, yet you have told us your heart is with us and your prayers continue to sustain us. Thank you! Most of you continue to give even though it hurts to do so. What a beautiful act of generosity. Thank you!

While we have experienced a drop in financial support, we know and believe God will sustain us and we trust God to sustain you as well. We pray for you and for your families. We thank all of you for your heroics in this crisis. You are a true light and beacon of hope for our youth. We could never do this without you.

“I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” – Jesus

With the deepest of gratitude,
Mark Koop




Executive Director