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Growing together; gardening at YES

Posted on August 5, 2020 in YES Stories

One day in June, a young person in the emergency shelter approached her trusted YES outreach worker, Karen. She asked if she could weed the front garden at the shelter. She had noticed that since the beginning of the pandemic, without our usual volunteer help, the gardens needed some attention.

Tomatoes growing in a veggie garden planted by youth in our RISE Youth Housing Program

Of course, the answer was yes. Not only did our garden need work, but gardening can be a very therapeutic activity, helping us to be present, reduce stress, and connect with others.

“Gardening gives us a way to instantly see the fruits of our labour,” says Karen. “Young people can see a physical transformation, and can feel accomplished knowing that their actions are making a difference.”

Help from Home Depot

YES runs on a very tight budget, with the vast majority of money going to improve the safety of youth and families experiencing homelessness. With very few resources, there was only so far we could take our front garden. So we reached out to Home Depot.

Over the years, youth and families at YES have benefited enormously from Home Depot’s ‘Orange Door Project’ which strives to prevent and end youth homelessness. Because of COVID-19, the annual Orange Door Project Grant and In-Store Campaign couldn’t happen this year, but the Home Depot Canada Foundation knew their donation would be greatly missed and gave YES $10,000 towards getting youth and families through COVID-19. Plus everything we needed to make our garden beautiful.

When we requested compost and plants to help make our gardens grow, Home Depot came to our rescue right away

This amazing donation is going directly to youth who need a stable home by supporting our RISE Youth Housing Program. This program provides young people (who would otherwise be homeless) with a supportive home where they can rest, heal and plan for their futures.

No pressure, no stress

At the same time that the emergency shelter was being beautified, young people in the RISE Youth Housing program approached YES Outreach Workers about gardening at their homes too.

The young people chose the plants, decided together where they should go

Outreach workers Kendra and Augustus jumped at the chance to garden with the youth in the Rise program.

The day the garden went in at our transition homes*, Kendra and Augustus spent hours with the youth digging, enhancing the soil, planning and planting. Not only were the young people taking care of their living space, but they were bonding and enjoying each other’s company.

“It was a nice relaxing afternoon, where there was no pressure. No expectations, just something free flowing and enjoyable,” said Kendra.

Gardening together

As everyone is trying to stay apart during this pandemic, gardening at our emergency shelter and RISE Youth Housing locations is bringing us closer together (safely). Something we couldn’t have done without help.

Colourful petunias line another veggie garden planted by an avid gardener in our RISE Youth Housing Program

Thank you Home Depot Canada, for giving our youth a way to get out and spend time with each other outside. The benefits have been immeasurable.

To help YES expand our RISE Youth Housing program, to get more young people out of homelessness, donate here.

*Transition homes are locations within our RISE Youth Housing Program. Transitional housing is a term used to describe a supported living program that helps people transition from homelessness into stability by providing the safety, supports and space for them to address what caused their homelessness.

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