a peek inside the fishbowl

17 Jun, 2010

I’ve got a big favour to ask

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Challenge me, challenge you|Ottawa|Yaktivism

Oh, friends. I’m going to ask you for something big. Please read all the way to the end. :)

A few months ago I was asked whether I would like to be on the Board of Directors of the new Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa Charitable Foundation.

I had heard about YSB and the services they offer, but never knew of their immense scope until Alex Munter, the Executive Director of YSB, took a few of us on a half-day tour of some of the facilities and programs YSB supports across Ottawa. And that’s when I truly found out who they are and what they do.

At the risk of sounding totally naive, I will tell you that my eyes were opened that day. Wide.

YSB has been around for 50 years, and operates in 20 locations across the city. They serve between 2,500 and 3,000 youth and families each month, guiding youth through issues related to housing, mental and physical health, community reintegration, education, employment and more.

YSB understands the challenges these young people face and gives them the tools they need to succeed at a critical point in their lives.

But Ottawa is growing. And the number of young people in our community is growing too. Did you know that 1/3 of Ottawa residents are under the age of 24?

There’s way more demand than there are services, and the YSB Charitable Foundation will help the agency expand services, fix buildings and offer new programs to meet new needs.

I don’t believe that families who need access to things like mental health services should have to wait for them.

You should read about some of the young people – like Alicia, for example – who received YSB support and are now moving on to big things. Interestingly enough, many of these “big things” often involve giving back to their communities in some way, like by finishing high school, going on to college, and getting jobs as social workers and youth workers. Funny how that happens.

Their remarkable courage and resilience is inspiring. The obstacles some of these young people have had to overcome are enormous.

I am writing this to you from a place of privilege, while sitting at my home office in a cushy neighborhood in Ottawa. I have a puppy sleeping at my feet, a full belly, and a latte within easy reach. My spouse is gainfully employed, as am I. My kids are happy and getting ready for summer holidays. We are healthy.

Many of us live our daily lives in relative isolation. We hear about homelessness but don’t often see it. We hear about street kids and drug abuse and prostitution but don’t often see it. I update this blog, do my work, make dinner, do laundry, walk the dog, and do the things I do. It’s easy to get caught up in those routines and not see outside of them.

Our future is in the hands of our young citizens. We have a duty to help the ones who seek our help. When the youth of our nation is strong, it makes us strong too.

The YSB Charitable Foundation – of which I am now a part – has set a goal to raise $750,000 in 2010-2011.

This campaign will help:

  • Rebuild the Downtown Services and Drop-in Centre, where YSB’s street front programs are offered;
  • Support mental health programs for youth;
  • Fund employment programs that help young people get their first jobs;
  • Expand housing and shelter services to accommodate street-involved youth; and
  • Sustain community reintegration programs for youth in conflict with the law.

I am one of 50 community leaders asking 50 individuals to donate $50 to the YSB Charitable Foundation.

And that’s where you come in. If you feel like you’ve gained something useful, entertaining or helpful from my scribblings here … whether it’s a recipe or an idea for a craft, or i’ve made you laugh or made you think – and if you’ve appreciated anything I’ve written here, please consider making a donation today.

If you can give more than $50, please consider giving more. If you can settle for terrible office coffee and skip your latte at Starbucks today and give the equivalent of what you’d spend to the Foundation instead, well, consider it good karma that will return to you some day.

YSB programs and services empower youth to make choices that can help them secure a better future, and your gift will help good people doing great work. We all need to step up.

I’m here to tell you that if you would like to make a difference in your own community, you can. Please consider making a donation and becoming one of my 50. If you would like to make a donation please use this secure form… that way I can track it and see if I meet my target.

If you aren’t able to give, please help spread the word about this important fundraising campaign. Whether you are in the Ottawa area or not, I would consider it a personal favour if you blogged it, tweeted about it, or posted about it on your Facebook wall. Every little bit counts!

Ottawa is already such a great place to live. Let’s make it even better, for everyone, ok?

Thank you for listening. Now, over to you.

Edited to add:

17 Responses to "I’ve got a big favour to ask"

1 | bushidoka

June 17th, 2010 at 1:58 pm


Is there any info online on where these places are located throughout the city, and how one might be able to volunteer their time if they’d rather do that than donate money? I am not able to find anything on the website.

2 | andrea

June 17th, 2010 at 2:06 pm


I will ask for you bushidoka. :)

3 | Jay

June 17th, 2010 at 2:10 pm


I will forever be indebted to the YSB. I can without a doubt say that they saved my life. I was one of the kids that crossed through their doors about 20 yrs ago. I could have wound up on the streets, but instead they helped and provided me with the assitance I needed to get back on my feet.

This is a great thing that you are doing! Thank you!

4 | andrea

June 17th, 2010 at 2:17 pm


Ok people. I sent this post out a few minutes ago and I’m sitting here blubbering.

I was so afraid that no one would give but I see that some of you already have. Thank you so much …

5 | bushidoka

June 17th, 2010 at 2:28 pm


It is definitely a great service. I was also a very troubled youth and we could have used this sort of service in our tiny town. I managed to pull myself out of it without assistance, but many of my friends did not.

6 | andrea

June 17th, 2010 at 2:43 pm


FYI – today’s launch event was written up in the Ottawa Citizen.

7 | andrea

June 17th, 2010 at 2:51 pm


Jay: They are amazing, the work they do is incredible. I’m so glad to hear they helped you too!

Bushidoka: I noticed the online donation form has a link to a volunteer form… you might want to go that route.

8 | bushidoka

June 17th, 2010 at 3:25 pm


Thanks. They want to accept some “event waiver conditions” but when I try to read them it does not display. I’ll just try to contact them from the website.

9 | Laura

June 17th, 2010 at 3:43 pm


I was not aware of the great work the YSB Charitable Foundation does…wow. Good luck with your fundraising.

10 | Miss Vicky

June 17th, 2010 at 7:07 pm


Great initiative. Great organization. I hope everyone steps up to help you meet your target

11 | andrea

June 17th, 2010 at 8:41 pm


Thanks everyone!
We’re 20% of the way already! Woot!

By the way, if you’re interested, check out who’s on the YSB Charitable Foundation board along with me. :)

12 | andrea

June 18th, 2010 at 9:31 am


As of this morning I’m 24% of the way to meeting our goal. Thank you to everyone who has given and tweeted about it so far.

If you’ve posted something on your blog please let me know so I can link to you in the body of the post. Thank you!!

13 | Random thoughts over Saturday coffee >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 19th, 2010 at 8:17 am


[…] my YSB post from the other day. Oh my goodness. THANK YOU. I have to confess that I was afraid of posting it, or writing it all […]

14 | Natalie

June 22nd, 2010 at 7:02 am


Andrea I just wanted you to know your post inspired me to write one of my own on my blog http://www.skigurl.wordpress.com

Keep up the good work.

15 | Raising up >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 24th, 2010 at 8:40 am


[…] The power of the internet is amazing. Fishbowl readers have stepped up and donated $1,170.00 to the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa Charitable Foundation. This is 47% of my goal. THANK YOU. If you would like to donate or read more about my involvement with YSB, click here. […]

16 | Come to a dinner party with me and 400 Ottawans (oh, and Jim Cuddy) >> a peek inside the fishbowl

October 14th, 2010 at 7:58 am


[…] about my involvement with YSB here and make a donation for Team […]

17 | Help young people Dream. Believe. Achieve. >> a peek inside the fishbowl

November 24th, 2010 at 2:15 pm


[…] time ago I wrote about my involvement with the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. I also wrote about a big gala fundraising event starring Jim Cuddy. WELL, the big night is […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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