Aunt Leah's Place

Aunt Leah’s Place receives a $20,000 Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund grant to expand youth mental health counselling in partnership with Dan’s Legacy Foundation

From left to right: Tom Littlewood, Dan’s Legacy, Program Director; Sarah Stewart, Executive Director of Aunt Leah’s Place; Barbara Coates, Executive Director of Dan’s Legacy, and Andrea Lyman, Bell Ambassador

NEW WESTMINSTER, October 24, 2019 – Aunt Leah’s Place is pleased to announce it has received a $20,000 grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund to expand the capacity of its free clinical counselling program operated in partnership with Dan’s Legacy Foundation.

The Link: Mental Health Supports for Youth from Care program provides free counselling services and supports for youth in and from foster care with histories of abuse, neglect and mental health issues. Funding from Bell Let’s Talk will enable the program to expand its counselling hours, offering evening and weekend sessions at Aunt Leah’s Youth Hub Resource Centre.

“The Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund grant allows Aunt Leah’s Place and Dan’s Legacy to continue our partnership and provide innovative mental health supports for youth in and from foster care,” said Sarah Stewart, Executive Director of Aunt Leah’s Place. “We are honoured to work with so many amazing young people each day and to have such a great partnership with Dan’s Legacy. We thank Bell Let’s Talk for supporting youth in and from foster care and helping them build brighter futures.”

“We’re proud of our longtime partnership with Aunt Leah’s Place and thrilled with this outstanding support from Bell Let’s Talk,” said Barbara Coates, Executive Director of Dan’s Legacy. “Working together has helped us expand our reach into the community, ensuring more at-risk youth receive critical counselling and wrap-around supports.” 

Youth from foster care are at high risk for homelessness and lifelong mental health and addictions issues. Aunt Leah’s Place and Dan’s Legacy Foundation work together to provide wrap-around services to at-risk youth in the Lower Mainland who are either in foster care or aging out of foster care. For youth in transition, The Link works to provide a continuum of care and planning past age 19, closing the gap in mental health support services for at-risk youth requiring mental health counselling. 

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to support Aunt Leah’s Place as they work with Dan’s Legacy Foundation to expand mental health counselling services for youth in the Lower Mainland,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “Through the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, we are helping over 120 organizations across Canada this year, like Aunt Leah’s Place, that are making a difference for people in their communities living with mental health issues.”

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk Day and significant funding of community care and access, research and workplace leadership initiatives. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

About Aunt Leah’s Place

Aunt Leah’s Place helps prevent children in foster care from becoming homeless and mothers in need from losing custody of their children. To support them on their journey to self-sufficiency, we provide supported housing, job training, and coaching on essential life skills.

About Dan’s Legacy

Dan’s Legacy provides therapeutic counselling and life-skills intervention programs to youth affected by trauma-based mental health and addictions issues. In the past four years Dan’s Legacy has helped over 300 youth meet their educational, housing and life goals.

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For more information, please contact: 

Lourdes Perez de Lara

Communication and Development Lead

604-525-1204 x233  
lperezdelara@auntleahs.org 

PRESS RELEASE: Aunt Leah’s Selected as One of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities

Vancouver Charity Combatting Youth Homelessness Selected as One of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities

VANCOUVER, BC – Aunt Leah’s Place, a Metro Vancouver charity providing housing and support for youth aging out of foster care and young moms and babies, has been selected as one of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for 2017 by Charity Intelligence (Ci).

Charity Intelligence has picked the Top Ten 10 most effective Canadian charities that combat issues such as hunger, homelessness, health, and improving education. According to Ci’s Director of Research, Greg Thomson, “High impact charities are likely to be the most effective at changing lives. For your dollar, these charities are creating the most positive change we have seen These 10 high-impact charities, as a group, are likely to produce over $600 in value from a $100 gift!”

“What we do at Aunt Leah’s is to stop the cycle of homelessness and foster care by providing housing and a family-like support system for youth who are aging out of foster care and for young moms.” Says Executive Director Sarah Stewart, “Without a supportive home to go to, these moms—many of whom were foster kids themselves– would be homeless and lose their babies to the foster care system.”

It is estimated that half of BC foster youth will experience homelessness. The University of Victoria report, Avoiding the Precipice, found that Aunt Leah’s services and supports helped former foster youth avoid homelessness and maintain market housing. According to the study an average of 86% of Aunt Leah’s participants were safe, independent and in housing. In 2016, 93% of moms leaving the Aunt Leah’s Threshold Program, a unique program that provides housing and support for homeless moms and their children, secured safe housing and maintained custody of their children.

A recent report, OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSITION: An Economic Analysis of Investing in Youth Aging out of Foster Care in their 20s states “Support for social and community connections should recognize the role of service organizations in assisting youth aging out of care find and maintain adequate housing… An evaluation of Aunt Leah’s Link program found that it successfully helped youth aging out of care work through housing issues.”

The report demonstrates the cost benefit of supporting this vulnerable population. Annual costs of up to $268 million are associated with the adverse experiences many youth aging out of foster care at 19 encounter, while a much lower level of investment – $57 million per year – would be required to improve outcomes and reduce costs.

Aunt Leah’s is looking forward to having even greater impact going forward.

They have recently partnered with BC Housing to acquire ownership of a 10-unit apartment building and a five bedroom home, giving them increased capacity to provide affordable housing to youth from foster care and moms from care and their babies.

Marcia Tait is one of those moms who has benefited from Aunt Leah’s support. Marcia came to the Thresholds program on a cold day in February of 2015. The staff listened to Marcia’s story and assured her that this was the place she needed to be. She moved into Thresholds a few days later.

Today Marcia and her youngest daughter, who she is now reunited with, are living independently in their own apartment and Marcia acts as a Peer Mentor for Threshold’s current and past moms.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, Aunt Leah’s has a long tradition of social entrepreneurship, operating several businesses which both give employment opportunities to youth from care and generate almost 20% of its annual revenue.

The biggest revenue generator is the Aunt Leah’s Tree Lots which are now open in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, New West and Coquitlam. One hundred per cent of profits from the sale of the trees go to support the housing programs. In addition Aunt Leah’s youth gain valuable job experience working on the lots.

“Our customers love the fact that they can help provide housing for vulnerable youth and young moms and babies by just buying a Christmas tree.” says Angelina Oates, Tree Lot Coordinator. “For a lot of families an Aunt Leah’s Christmas tree is a cherished part of their Christmas tradition.” https://auntleahs.org/social-enterprise/tree-lots

To download a media kit, backgrounders and photos go to the Branding section on the Media Centre.

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For interviews contact Mairi Campbell 778-885-5300; e-mail: mairi.campbell@personae.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Aunt Leah’s Trees (2017)

How Buying a Christmas Tree Helps Provide Housing for Homeless Foster Youth & Homeless Moms and Babies

VANCOUVER, BC – On November 24th, Aunt Leah’s annual Tree Lots will open in five municipalities Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, New West and Coquitlam. One hundred per cent of profits from the lots go towards housing for vulnerable youth leaving foster care and young moms and their children.

Marcia’s Story

Marcia is a young mom whose life has been turned around by the help she got from Aunt Leah’s.

She  came to the Thresholds program—a unique program that provides housing and support for homeless moms and their children-  on a cold day in February of 2015. The staff listened to Marcia’s story and assured her that this was the place she needed to be.

Marcia moved into Thresholds a few days later.

Today Marcia is a Peer Mentor for Threshold’s current and past moms. Marcia and her youngest daughter, who she is now reunited with, are participating in the second stage of Aunt Leah’s Thresholds Program. Marcia will continue in her role as a Peer Mentor and an amazing mom!

“Without a supportive home to go to, these moms—many of whom were foster kids themselves– would be homeless and lose their babies to the foster care system,” says Sara Stewart, Executive Director of Aunt Leah’s. “We are trying to stop this cycle.”

It is estimated that half of BC foster youth will experience homelessness. “Currently, BC’s foster care system is not only a pipeline to future homelessness, but also a pipeline from and back to itself, due to early and unplanned pregnancies. Aunt Leah’s has responded to this crisis by helping young women in need – who we know can succeed when surrounded by supportive allies and resources– thus preventing another generation of children & babies from entering the system.” say Stewart.

Aunt Leah’s started selling Christmas trees in the 1990s when government funding was cut. It has turned into a viable social enterprise and Christmas tree sales have grown every year.” For a lot of families an Aunt Leah’s Christmas tree is a cherished part of their Christmas tradition.” Says Angelina Oates, Tree Lot Coordinator.

Purchasing one of Aunt Leah’s Trees for Christmas can help prevent these vulnerable youth and young moms like Marcia from becoming homeless.

www.auntleahs.org/trees

 Aunt Leah’s Place was chosen by Charity Intelligence as a Top Pick in their survey of Canadian Charities. Charity Intelligence researches charities to help donors decide where to direct their giving.

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For interviews contact Mairi Campbell 778-885-5300; e-mail: mairi.campbell@personae.ca

PRESS RELEASE: Aunt Leah’s Trees (2016)

A Shortage of Trees, but an Abundance of Love

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – You may notice there are less Christmas Tree Lots operating this year,
thats because the Pacific Northwest is having a shortage of trees. However, this isn’t holding
Aunt Leah’s back from having it’s biggest year ever.

“When we began ordering trees for this season, we were informed by some of our suppliers that there was a shortage, due to many farmers in Washington and Oregon changing crops over the last decade. Luckily we secured our order, but other lots might not be as fortunate” – Angelina Oates (Director of Training & Social Enterprises, Aunt Leah’s Place)

Aunt Leah’s orders its Trees from multiple partners, which helps them keep up with growing
demand. Many people purchase their live trees, as it is environmentally friendly, and gives
families an opportunity to “buy it forward” as they get into the spirit of the season.
100% of the proceeds from each sale, goes to programming that helps prevent foster youth
from becoming homeless and mothers in need from losing custody of their children. In BC, 45%
of foster youth will experience homelessness at some point (Rutman, UVIC, 2007). Aunt Leah’s
innovative family model helped 90% of its participants maintain safe and secure housing. The
majority of these youth also received job certifications or worked towards
completing their educational goals.

For over 20 years Aunt Leah’s Trees has been selling quality, Pacific Northwest Christmas Trees
to communities across Metro Vancouver. With 5 locations (Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam,
North Vancouver), staffed by over 450 volunteers, Aunt Leah’s Trees is one of the largest charity
tree lot’s in Canada. The tree lots are also the site of Aunt Leah’s Retail Training program,
helping to give youth in care the skills to obtain employment. For more information or to buy a
tree online visit: auntleahs.org

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Media Contact:
Clete Hanson
Aunt Leah’s Place
chanson@auntleahs.org
604 525 1204 ext. 233

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