Aunt Leah’s Christmas Tree Lots Provide Housing and Hope for Young Moms
For folks looking to get into the Christmas spirit this year, purchasing a fresh, locally sourced Aunt Leah’s Tree or volunteering at an Aunt Leah’s Tree lot – open in Vancouver November 24th, and in Burnaby and Coquitlam November 25th – is the perfect way to experience some holiday cheer and help support vulnerable foster youth and young moms and their children.
Chelsea was a pregnant 15-year-old in foster care with nowhere to go. That was when Aunt Leah’s Place, a Vancouver charity that provides housing and support for young moms and fosters teens, stepped in.
“I don’t think I could have raised my daughter on my own without that help,” says Chelsea. “Aunt Leah’s has been like a family to me. They taught me how to take care of my baby and myself.”
Without the stable housing and support that Aunt Leah’s House offered, Chelsea would have been at risk of losing her baby to the child welfare system.
“Without a supportive home to go to, these young moms would be homeless and lose their babies to the foster care system,” says Sarah Stewart, Executive Director of Aunt Leah’s. “We are trying to stop this cycle.”
With Aunt Leah’s support Chelsea learned life skills and how to care for her baby. She also went back to school and graduated from South Burnaby High school.
The Aunt Leah’s Tree sales are a major source of revenue for the housing and programs that Aunt Leah’s provides for vulnerable foster youth and young moms and babies. Studies show that 50% of BC foster youth will experience homelessness, and young single moms have experienced even greater levels of housing and food insecurity during the pandemic.
After establishing a career as an aesthetician and successfully caring for her two children, Chelsea found herself homeless and without a job at the beginning of the pandemic. “It was brutal. I was renovicted, and the salon was shut down due to Covid. I was couch-surfing on a friend’s couch with nowhere to go. An Aunt Leah’s participant reached out to me, and I contacted them. They were so helpful.”
Chelsea moved into the Aunt Leah’s Laneway house with her two children. They are now in school, and Chelsea is upgrading her skills at college with hopes of opening her own salon.
Aunt Leah’s has been a lifeline for moms in need, providing housing, food hampers, living essentials and a supportive and compassionate adult to help them navigate these challenging times. In addition to the current housing that Aunt Leah’s provides for young moms and children, Aunt Leah’s House in Burnaby is almost complete with 5 more families ready to move in January 2023. Plans are also underway to build a laneway house on the premises which will provide more housing and activity space, giving Aunt Leah’s new capacity to provide affordable housing to moms from care and their babies.
Proceeds from Aunt Leah’s Christmas Tree Lots will go toward supporting the programs needed to successfully run these housing projects.
Aunt Leah’s is also proud to announce that they have been selected as one of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for 2022 by Charity Intelligence (Ci).