Chilly Covenant House Sleep Out ‘not your typical fundraiser’

News Nov 25, 2014 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Some of Toronto’s top business leaders spent a night seeing how the other half lives, sleeping outside on a chilly night in support of Covenant House Toronto.

Covenant House held its third annual Executive Sleep Out on Thursday, Nov. 20, with some 75 participants wrapping themselves up in sleeping bags in a small lot near Gerrard and Church streets.

The event aims to raise awareness and funds for the downtown organization, which provides temporary shelter, food, employment help and other services for homeless youth.

Covenant House executive director Bruce Rivers noted this year’s Sleep Out was a little less comfortable than the first two, with snow on the ground and temperatures dropping below freezing.

“Last year, it was one degree above zero and raining, so I looked at the forecast and said ‘oh my, I hope we don’t lose any sleepers,’ but the support has been just incredible,” he said. “This is not your typical fundraiser. This is an immersion, a very, very different experience and it’s not for everybody.”

The participants did more than just spend a night in the cold. Together, they raised roughly $940,000 in support of Covenant House Toronto and its initiatives.

“Our budget overall is $21 million to do the work we do to support 3,000 youth each year and we raise 80 per cent of that amount,” Rivers said. “In the house, we have not only a shelter, but we also have a medical clinic, we have a school, employment programs, apprenticeship programs, counselling, we have an arts program.”

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was one of the participants, making 2014 the third year he has taken part in Covenant House’s Executive Sleep Out.

“This is a great event for a great cause,” Blair said. “Covenant House means a great deal to the city and they provide an amazing service for homeless youth.”

He said it was inspiring to see such a large number of Toronto residents putting themselves in the shoes of homeless youth, even if it was for just one night.

“We’ll all be fine, and one of the things I always like to remember and remind everyone is that it’s one night and we all know where we’re going to be tomorrow night,” he said. “We’re all going to be warm in our own beds, but for the kids who live out on the street, they don’t necessarily have that assurance. We get a glimpse into their lives, but it’s only a glimpse.”

Belinda Stronach, president and co-chair of the Stronach Group and founder of the Belinda Stronach Foundation, took on a role as the Sleep Out’s honourary co-chair this year. Participating for the first time, she said the event opened her eyes to the challenges faced by homeless youth.

Before bedding down for the night, the sleepers met with youth who have used Covenant House to help them along the path to a better life.

“The great part of this evening so far was listening to the very personal stories about how Covenant House has touched the alumni,” Stronach said. “I got to tour the house and see the fulsome work that’s done there.”

She pointed out that Covenant House was a much-needed resource for young people who felt they were out of other options.

“Covenant House gave them hope, self-respect and confidence that they needed to start moving forward,” she said.

Though the Sleep Out is over for this year, people can still make donations in support of participants online.

For more information on Covenant House Toronto, visit www.covenanthousetoronto.ca

or more information on the Executive Sleep Out or to support a sleeper, visit www.executivesleepout.ca

Chilly Covenant House Sleep Out ‘not your typical fundraiser’

Police Chief Bill Blair and Belinda Stronach among prominent volunteers taking part

News Nov 25, 2014 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Some of Toronto’s top business leaders spent a night seeing how the other half lives, sleeping outside on a chilly night in support of Covenant House Toronto.

Covenant House held its third annual Executive Sleep Out on Thursday, Nov. 20, with some 75 participants wrapping themselves up in sleeping bags in a small lot near Gerrard and Church streets.

The event aims to raise awareness and funds for the downtown organization, which provides temporary shelter, food, employment help and other services for homeless youth.

Covenant House executive director Bruce Rivers noted this year’s Sleep Out was a little less comfortable than the first two, with snow on the ground and temperatures dropping below freezing.

“Last year, it was one degree above zero and raining, so I looked at the forecast and said ‘oh my, I hope we don’t lose any sleepers,’ but the support has been just incredible,” he said. “This is not your typical fundraiser. This is an immersion, a very, very different experience and it’s not for everybody.”

The participants did more than just spend a night in the cold. Together, they raised roughly $940,000 in support of Covenant House Toronto and its initiatives.

“Our budget overall is $21 million to do the work we do to support 3,000 youth each year and we raise 80 per cent of that amount,” Rivers said. “In the house, we have not only a shelter, but we also have a medical clinic, we have a school, employment programs, apprenticeship programs, counselling, we have an arts program.”

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was one of the participants, making 2014 the third year he has taken part in Covenant House’s Executive Sleep Out.

“This is a great event for a great cause,” Blair said. “Covenant House means a great deal to the city and they provide an amazing service for homeless youth.”

He said it was inspiring to see such a large number of Toronto residents putting themselves in the shoes of homeless youth, even if it was for just one night.

“We’ll all be fine, and one of the things I always like to remember and remind everyone is that it’s one night and we all know where we’re going to be tomorrow night,” he said. “We’re all going to be warm in our own beds, but for the kids who live out on the street, they don’t necessarily have that assurance. We get a glimpse into their lives, but it’s only a glimpse.”

Belinda Stronach, president and co-chair of the Stronach Group and founder of the Belinda Stronach Foundation, took on a role as the Sleep Out’s honourary co-chair this year. Participating for the first time, she said the event opened her eyes to the challenges faced by homeless youth.

Before bedding down for the night, the sleepers met with youth who have used Covenant House to help them along the path to a better life.

“The great part of this evening so far was listening to the very personal stories about how Covenant House has touched the alumni,” Stronach said. “I got to tour the house and see the fulsome work that’s done there.”

She pointed out that Covenant House was a much-needed resource for young people who felt they were out of other options.

“Covenant House gave them hope, self-respect and confidence that they needed to start moving forward,” she said.

Though the Sleep Out is over for this year, people can still make donations in support of participants online.

For more information on Covenant House Toronto, visit www.covenanthousetoronto.ca

or more information on the Executive Sleep Out or to support a sleeper, visit www.executivesleepout.ca

Chilly Covenant House Sleep Out ‘not your typical fundraiser’

Police Chief Bill Blair and Belinda Stronach among prominent volunteers taking part

News Nov 25, 2014 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Some of Toronto’s top business leaders spent a night seeing how the other half lives, sleeping outside on a chilly night in support of Covenant House Toronto.

Covenant House held its third annual Executive Sleep Out on Thursday, Nov. 20, with some 75 participants wrapping themselves up in sleeping bags in a small lot near Gerrard and Church streets.

The event aims to raise awareness and funds for the downtown organization, which provides temporary shelter, food, employment help and other services for homeless youth.

Covenant House executive director Bruce Rivers noted this year’s Sleep Out was a little less comfortable than the first two, with snow on the ground and temperatures dropping below freezing.

“Last year, it was one degree above zero and raining, so I looked at the forecast and said ‘oh my, I hope we don’t lose any sleepers,’ but the support has been just incredible,” he said. “This is not your typical fundraiser. This is an immersion, a very, very different experience and it’s not for everybody.”

The participants did more than just spend a night in the cold. Together, they raised roughly $940,000 in support of Covenant House Toronto and its initiatives.

“Our budget overall is $21 million to do the work we do to support 3,000 youth each year and we raise 80 per cent of that amount,” Rivers said. “In the house, we have not only a shelter, but we also have a medical clinic, we have a school, employment programs, apprenticeship programs, counselling, we have an arts program.”

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was one of the participants, making 2014 the third year he has taken part in Covenant House’s Executive Sleep Out.

“This is a great event for a great cause,” Blair said. “Covenant House means a great deal to the city and they provide an amazing service for homeless youth.”

He said it was inspiring to see such a large number of Toronto residents putting themselves in the shoes of homeless youth, even if it was for just one night.

“We’ll all be fine, and one of the things I always like to remember and remind everyone is that it’s one night and we all know where we’re going to be tomorrow night,” he said. “We’re all going to be warm in our own beds, but for the kids who live out on the street, they don’t necessarily have that assurance. We get a glimpse into their lives, but it’s only a glimpse.”

Belinda Stronach, president and co-chair of the Stronach Group and founder of the Belinda Stronach Foundation, took on a role as the Sleep Out’s honourary co-chair this year. Participating for the first time, she said the event opened her eyes to the challenges faced by homeless youth.

Before bedding down for the night, the sleepers met with youth who have used Covenant House to help them along the path to a better life.

“The great part of this evening so far was listening to the very personal stories about how Covenant House has touched the alumni,” Stronach said. “I got to tour the house and see the fulsome work that’s done there.”

She pointed out that Covenant House was a much-needed resource for young people who felt they were out of other options.

“Covenant House gave them hope, self-respect and confidence that they needed to start moving forward,” she said.

Though the Sleep Out is over for this year, people can still make donations in support of participants online.

For more information on Covenant House Toronto, visit www.covenanthousetoronto.ca

or more information on the Executive Sleep Out or to support a sleeper, visit www.executivesleepout.ca