John Lister introduced Gus and Beth, both passionate about the cause of young adult homelessness.  We may not be aware of it as a problem but these two are familiar with it and are working to alleviate it.  Beth is a legal assistant with 4 daughters and Gus played professional hockey in France and Finland before becoming a Probation Officer with neurolinguistic training in suicide prevention.

Gus said he and Beth and the others they are working with have a vision of a transitional home for street kids that will be more than a shelter.  It will be a long term home for young people so they can gain a sense of belonging and work towards solutions to their problems and traumas.  Driving his daughter to school recently he told her she was a great kid which she agreed with but later he's talking to a street kid and asks him what his one wish would be if he had one and it was that 'he had never been born'.  These kids have no sense of being special and that's what's driving him on this project - the need to give these kids a sense of their identity, of their specialness.

They've been rejected all their lives so the vision is to build a community of kids who feel proud about themselves.  We, as a community, have a responsibility and and obligation and he says we cannot fail.  They can be reached.  He spoke with one young girl who was not on his client list and after a conversation of 45 minutes she wrote him a note that thanked him for being there to work on her problems.  He never saw her again, though.  She had left home at 14 to escape sexual abuse, had worked as a prostitute, was arrested but released into the care of an adult but she was a suicide at 18.  She was abused, scared and felt that being on the street was safer than being at home.

Gus said that his group is working on a detailed presentation which they will be presenting later, that they have an application in to Simcoe County for funding but that they need partners to work with them on this to prevent more of this kind of tragedy.

In response to a question he said that numbers were very difficult to come by because these youth are so traumatized and distrustful that they are very hard to contact.  They have had no positive experiences in terms of relationships and so have no sense of how to build one.  Most of them have drug and mental health issues and drugs become more dangerous every day - recently they found pot that had been handled with equipment used to cut oxy contin which made it extremely dangerous.

Beth distributed a letter from the principal at MSS confirming the need for such a facility.  She says the students come to school hungry, without proper clothing, with no sleep and they are at such a loss that they disengage altogether.