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Weston aids the homeless
By Heather Buchan
Ontario's lieutenant-governor has decided to assist Toronto's homeless youth by putting them to work.
Hilary Weston announced Monday her plans to donate $25,000 to both Eva's Phoenix and the Yonge Street Mission, two organizations which aid homeless youth.
Ishbel Halliday, an information officer for Queen's Park, said the donation came from the Hilary M. Weston Foundation, created by Weston in 1997. The foundation was initially conceived to offer high school students career opportunities in business through internships, Halliday said. She added Weston's salary of approximately $100,000 is donated to the foundation each year, which funds projects assisting youth.
"We are thrilled," said Jennifer Morris, project co-ordinator at Eva's Phoenix, "We're delighted that Hilary Weston has stood up and supported this project."
The training project will help street kids not only gain job skills, but basic life skills such as anger management, time management and how to interact with others, Morris said, adding the training targets youth who are between the ages of 16 and 29.
She added the goal of the program was to enable youth to avoid conflict with peers and employers, so they would not end up on the streets again. A peer mentorship program in an employment resource centre is one avenue available to the street youth.
"Homeless kids have not had the opportunity to learn the life skills that we have all learned from our families," Morris said.
The training program allows the youths to work in jobs they would not otherwise have been exposed to, said Barbara Walkden, director of directors at the Yonge Street Mission.
Walkden said without the funding, the kids could not afford such things as hair cuts and eyeglasses to look presentable for interviews. "The training program assists in securing jobs with real career paths."
Morris said youths who were formerly on the street or in shelters, acquire real job skills through practical training. "We employed 49 homeless youths to build the new housing and training facilities here," she said, adding they were trained by skilled carpenters.
Both Eva's Phoenix and the Yonge Street Mission are working with industries to match labour shortages, Walkden said. She added there is a lack of employment opportunities and training available to youth.
"I think that it is absolutely marvelous Hilary Weston is going out of her way to highlight the serious issues with youth," Walkden said.
"Our vision is that when they leave, they will be able to live independently and maintain a job," she added.