Devon is like a ray of sunshine when he walks into a room. He has had many struggles in his young life, including being homeless several times since aging out, but Devon hasn’t let any of that affect the way he carries himself. His story of resourcefulness and resilience is very motivating and encouraging and made him the ideal recipient of the first Champion Award in honour of Jennifer McFarlane.
One thing that brings everyone together is food but unfortunately not everybody has their next meal guaranteed. Devon knows this first hand from his own struggles.
Devon has been a friendly and familiar face at Aunt Leah’s Place since 2013, when he was invited to participate in the Link program by a former staff member. For him, food security was a big thing. The transit security and the clothing provided have also made a difference. At Aunt Leah’s, Devon has met a lot of new friends and has also learned networking skills. Devon says
“The program covers your basic needs in a lot of ways, that’s for sure. I think if I didn’t know Aunt Leah’s at the time, 4 or 5 years ago, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
A big part of Aunt Leah’s Place work involves coordinating food based programs and strives to provide balanced meals which Devon recognizes is important. “Without life skills to do the cooking and food, you’ll only be eating fast food and wasting resources and money on things you should already know as an adult.” Devon said.
When asked about his thoughts about food security for youth aging out of care, Devon responds “Youth from care have it a lot rougher than the average youth with two parents and a dog and a white fence. If they are poor, don’t have money and need food, they can go to Mommy and Daddy or anyone else that they know. They usually have strong community bonds. With youth in care, you usually don’t have that. I can’t go to friends and family mostly because of my own pride. I’m too shy and embarrassed to say ‘Hey, I’m struggling, can you help me?’ Sometimes you’ll get responses like ‘Can’t you ask your family?’ I’ve just noticed that there is a gap between both of them”.
With the support of Vancouver Foundation’s Fostering Change Initiative and Aunt Leah’s Place, he recently created Spoons Up, an online guide of accessible, free and low-cost food resources in the Lower Mainland designed with youth leaving care in mind. The project aims to ensure food security, combat isolation and provides information about youth-specific resources.
Devon and other youth have personally visited the locations featured on the website to make sure that they are safe and that there is enough to fill their bowls. Devon is an engaged member of Aunt Leah’s Housing First Committee and wants to become a role model for other people who are in the position he was, especially young males that haven’t had role models in their lives, like himself.
If you’d like to support youth like Devon and Aunt Leah’s programs please consider joining our Brighter Future Monthly Donor Community for as little as $20 a month.