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Transforming lives

In January, Home Horizon Georgian Triangle Residential Services received a Gay Lea Foundation grant of $5,000 to support its Essential Like Skills Training Program. Home Horizon works to transform the lives of youth at risk of homelessness in the Southern Georgian Bay area by providing them with the opportunity to rebuild their lives and achieve their full potential.

Home Horizon has been serving the needs of the homeless in Southern Georgian Bay since 2005. In July 2017, it opened the Barbara Weider House dedicated to youth aged 16 to 24-years-old who are facing homelessness. The house provides safe, stable, and affordable housing that bridges the gap between emergency shelter and independent living to youth while helping their clients set goals and teaching them life skills.

“Our young residents have had many barriers to accessing education, employment and health services,” says Karyn Baker, Interim Director of Home Horizons. “Many of them have childhood experiences of trauma, mental health and addiction issues and have not had the opportunity to learn the essential life skills to succeed in life.”

The Essential Life Skills Training Program provides youth with counselling and life skills training to help them transition into adulthood, gain self-awareness and confidence, and lead more independent, healthy lives.

Last year, three of the program participants went on to graduate from high school and one had enrolled in college.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for these young people who struggled with homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, who were physically and sexually abused or had serious financial and family issues,” says Baker.

With the Gay Lea Foundation funding, Home Horizons was able to provide bus passes for school and pay for school supplies. Employment skills were also taught, which included resume writing and interview skills. Almost all of Home Horizons’ residents had part-time jobs until COVID-19. The funding was also used to purchase food and supplies and support the hiring of specialized counsellors and legal advocates for the 2020 calendar year.

“The sessions on healthy nutrition and cooking really helped one of our clients change his perspective on food,” says Baker. “He would only eat once a day and it had to be cheese sandwiches but now, we are pleased to share that the cooking classes inspired him. He makes the best smoothies for himself, other clients and staff.”

“Home Horizon is very grateful to the Gay Lea Foundation for giving us the ability to help homeless youth in our community, says Baker.


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