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Q1 2024 Update from Why Not City Missions

From Our Executive Director, Karen:


As we head towards spring with the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, I am once again reminded just how quickly life passes by. We blink and the seasons change both outside and within our culture and community. In our fast-paced world of constant connectivity it seems that days go by so much quicker than in past times, with it being so easy to lose ourselves in the digital world and miss what is going on around us.


Here at Why Not, we see our youth faced with rapid changes and increased online pressures and presence as well, sometimes growing and maturing, sometimes struggling with new or reoccurring challenges both in life and online. Through good times and bad, the youth we support come to understand that our Why Not staff are here for them, regardless of the world around them changing at often dizzying speeds. We become the consistent connections in their lives, often for several influential developmental years. Our youth come to our programs, call our properties home and our staff and community of youth their family. What an immense honour and heavy responsibility this is, to be more than just a community service, but to be a surrogate family to hurting youth and to provide safe spaces that are examples of what home should feel like.


Much like traditional parenting of teens, we employ many strategies and tactics to connect with our youth, to inspire them, to teach accountability and responsibility, to balance managing behaviours with building and maintaining the relationships. It is a constant juggling act, with each youth being unique and requiring very different interactions to thrive and grow and feel empowered to make their own life decisions. We strive to balance providing basic necessities and some fun and enjoyable experiences for our youth with opportunities to work for and earn extras, even if it is as simple as doing some chores around the youth centre in exchange for a free pop. In this process though, we recognize that it is slow going to change the trajectory of our youths’ lives. It takes years of intentional interactions to counter some of the trauma and generational hurts our youth carry with them, but this is what all our staff recognize and work towards.


We are blessed to have such an incredible team working with our youth, making impacts and real differences in the lives of our youth, many who are in desperate need for healthy adults connections and interactions. Please keep reading for updates from some of these staff who are leading each of our different programs!


Thank you to each of you for being invested and supportive of the work we are doing here at Why Not City Missions. We cannot fully describe how important it is to each of our staff to feel the impact of your support and encouragements as we journey with our youth through their good days and hard days.



From Our Program & Case Manager, Carolyn:


We had a strong start to the  new year as we entered the beginning of our third year at Charlies’ Place! We currently have a full house with three residents - two of whom have been with our program since we opened in December of 2021! 


Our newest resident has over the last few months begun to settle in well with the other residents and build relationships with the housemates and supporting staff. He has begun to reach a couple of his set goals already and it’s exciting to see the beginning stages of young people discovering their abilities to dream of a bright future.


Charlie’s Place continues to be an active force in our community, doubling our community service commitments to The Brantford Blessing Centre. This partnership has provided our youth with work skills, community, and the ability to build resilience and adaptability.    


We continue to work through the various struggles that our residents face and have been able to support them with regular counselling, staff support, mentorship and physical activities such as kickboxing and ball hockey. In addition, Charlie’s Place provided field placement for one first year student. Charlie’s Place has also seen an increase to our community presence through the greater involvement of outside organizations, which not only brings repute to Why Not City Missions, but increases the support that can be available to our residents as they eventually  graduate out of our program.  


We would love to see more partnerships develop in the capacity of male mentorship. If you or your small group would like to share your skills we would be happy to connect! Some areas we are looking for help in are basic handyman skills like small household repairs or projects. We also have a resident who has a passion for gardening and landscaping.  We have a young man who would love to learn to operate larger equipment like riding mowers, diggers, forklift - he is looking for opportunities to work in an entry level job that is physical in nature.  This mentorship can be through time in our housing or even on site.   If you have a heart for young men, we would love to connect with you!


It has been especially encouraging to me to see our long-standing residents mature and increase in skills, education and employability. To bear witness to the healing they are experiencing in relationships and in their levels of anxiety, which at their start with us prevented them from functioning well daily.  They are emerging as confident leaders in their areas of service and are recognized and celebrated. I look forward to their next steps as we enter the spring quarter.


From Our Program & Case Manager, Krista & Laura:


We are incredibly excited about this new year at SHYP. Our program is in a continual state of change with each new client that moves in, and we have to remind ourselves of daily that it is ok to change and modify to meet the needs of the clients where they are at. We are working hard to find the right balance between offering support and encouraging independence.


Our clients have set new goals for themselves and are working hard towards achieving those goals. These goals include healthy parenting, mental and physical wellness, life skills, personal growth and understanding who they are becoming. Goals are critical to establish as it gives us and them something to look back on to celebrate wins and something to look forward to and be held accountable for.


Our clients have really started to form strong personal connections within the house, looking to each other for guidance and support in many areas of their lives. There can be struggles with different parenting styles, but this can also help the clients to see parenting from a different perspective and try to meet in the middle. Much like many homes, chores are split up amongst the clients and there can be different ideas about what is acceptable, but we continue to encourage problem solving and communication to overcome differences.

We have definitely become more aware of our clients’ struggles connecting to community services, as we also face difficulty in getting responses and understand now that it is an under serviced area in our community with too few agencies servicing more clients than they can possibly support effectively.


We are looking forward to some in-house programs that we will be running focusing on budgeting and parenting. As we work towards offering these types of programs at SHYP, we recognise the need for a volunteer to do childcare, so the clients can focus on the material being taught without distraction. If this would be something that might interest you, please do not hesitate to contact us at volunteer@whynotcitymissions.com


All in all, we truly believe in and strive for SHYP to be a place that our clients feel comfortable to grow and learn and see it as the beginning to a beautiful future with their children.



From Our Youth Centre Coordinator & Volunteer Manager, Darryl:


Each New Year brings the potential of a new batch of placement students to our youth centre.  We are blessed to offer placements to post-secondary students studying in fields such as Social Work, Phycology and Youth Justice. The value to placement students is a workplace that puts them into direct relationship with youth without clinical barriers.  Our youth benefit from the variety of young adults they can find meaningful connection with.  Placement students bring with them past lived experiences, various hobbies, and skills to engage youth with.


Joining us this winter semester, under the wonderful guidance of Emily Welsh, our student mentor, were ten new placement students.  These students have added great value to our drop-in program as they have led workshops including

affirmation painting, bullet journaling, self-care, making cake pops, cupcakes in a jar, bracelet making and more.


We love having placement students and volunteers at Why Not.  We welcome students and potential volunteers to apply now and become part of the incredible work happening here in the youth centre with teens who desperately need healthy connections.


We continue to journey with youth, in both the difficult and the good. Already this year, we have seen some of our youth face police involvement, family eviction, suspension, bullying, substance use, struggles with school and relationship challenges.  Yet we have also seen growth and encouraging things too. Several of our youth have participated in a weekly girls group working on self-care and community building.  One of our youth has really made significant growth regarding peer relationships.  One youth has graduated high school and several others are on track to graduate this year. We have established connection with a new certified counsellor who will be working onsite with our youth to offer counselling services and mentorship from a mental health perspective to them.


We are eagerly waiting for the nice weather to come so we can complete our backyard renovations and install a permanent basketball net, allowing our youth to get fresh air, exercise and work off some of the excess energy and emotion that build up in them day to day.

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