Aunt Leah’s Place has been rated by Charity Intelligence as 2022 Top 10 Canadian Youth Impact Charity. Charity Intelligence impartially analyzes the transparency, accountability and cost-efficiency of more than 800 Canadian charities each year—empowering donors like you to make informed, intelligent giving decisions. Aunt Leah’s is the only charity based in British Columbia on this category.
For over thirty years, Aunt Leah’s vision has been ‘to create an environment where all children connected to the foster care system have equal opportunities akin to what parented children receive’. Aunt Leah’s has grown in capacity, become a leader in innovative programming, and continued to effectively translate the needs of foster youth into measurable program outcomes.
By modeling Canadian families, and surrounding youth with holistic supports – including food security, housing, counselling, access to healthcare, life skill development, education, and employment opportunities – and with the help of generous supporters like you, we have seen young people from foster care realize their potential and become independent adults connected to the community.
620 Youth, Moms & Children supported
117 Youth were housed and helped to find housing
241 Youth were helped to retain their housing month over month
2,627 Meals and bags of groceries distributed
200 Youth supported through counselling
140 Youth enrolled or re-enrolled in Supporting Education for Foster Youth (SEFFY) program
5 Young people graduated from post-secondary programs
71 Youth accessed employment services through Bootstraps employment services
40 Youth started a job through Bootstraps
We’re not just about dollars and cents. Aunt Leah’s uses research, data and stories of lived experiences to understand the challenges before us. We draw the right people to the table to address them, advocate for change, partner to build innovative solutions, and fundraise for support.
We then invest our available resources in smart, strategic ways, to ultimately help the people who depend on us.
One of Aunt Leah’s strategic goals is to “Raise Awareness of the issues that foster children and families at risk face and show Aunt Leah’s Place as addressing those issues”. Over the past three years Aunt Leah’s has partnered and collaborated with Fostering Change, BC Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, and Feminists Deliver to raise awareness and advocate for increased support for youth in and from government care and mothers at risk of losing custody of their children.
This year’s recipient of the Leah Award is Sim. The Leah Award is presented to an individual who has shown unconditional love and support and has always been proud of their achievements. Sim came to the Threshold program in December 2021 with her son, who was 9 days old. Sim was homeless at the time she came into the program and was fleeing an unfortunate situation. In the past few months, staff has seen Sim grow and has observed her be a very loving and caring mother to her son; she is very nurturing and attentive to all his needs and has also demonstrated these qualities when engaging with the other children in the program. Sim is a great role model for other moms in the program and this is demonstrated through her confidence and passion.
Sim brings a diversity of knowledge and experience to everything she does and is very open to attending a variety of workshops presented at Aunt Leah’s Place and expanding her knowledge. This past year, Sim delivered a workshop on “skincare” for Aunt Leah’s Place Plates of Possibilities program, which was a great success. Sim also takes on a leadership role during the Cooking Club Program at Threshold and is always willing to support others with their learning. Sim has an entrepreneurial mind and is always coming up with great ideas that she shares with staff and participants; she is very determined to succeed at everything she puts her mind to.
Sim’s future goals consist of continuing her education as a makeup artist in the film industry and working on completing her immigration paperwork to stay in Canada permanently, where she can have the opportunity to raise her son and provide him with a bright future. Sim has a big heart and we are very grateful to be a part of her journey to success. Keep up the good work Sim and congratulations!
“Thank you, Aunt Leah’s organization for giving me this award. I came to this organization a week after giving birth to my son. I was going through a very difficult time and was on the brink of homeless, I did not have any support at the time. I explained my situation to the staff at Thresholds, and they welcomed me and my son with open arms. I’m so great full to have the opportunity and support to have a safe home, where once again I can focus on my dreams and goals to make a better future for myself and my little family. I would like to continue and finished my education as a make-up artist. This experience at Aunt Leah’s organization has given me the confidence to take risks such as facilitating a workshop for the POP program which was a success. While at Thresholds I have received so much support and have learned to access other programs, including Mom and baby, Momma’s night, and sharing circle. I’ve met some amazing women who have helped me in the most difficult times in my life. My baby is 6 months old now and I look forward to starting a new chapter, working on my dreams & goals and building a safe and bright future for me and my baby.” — Harsimran Kaur
Bruce was a friend and long-time supporter of Aunt Leah’s who passed away on March 6, 2010. It was important to Bruce to be more than a donor. He also gave his time as a volunteer and shared his wisdom, helping Aunt Leah’s in various fundraising endeavours. Bruce was known among his family for giving them his unconditional love and support and was always proud of their achievements.
In Honour of Bruce Ambrose
The Jeremey Wright Award is presented to an individual in the Support Link program who has strived to achieve their personal best and who most follows their bliss and this year’s award recipient is Jason. Jason joined the Support Link program in 2021 and came to Canada as a refugee, on his own, without knowing a single person here. This transition was not easy; however, Jason did not let this hold him back. Jason is very goal-orientated individual who has a very positive outlook on life, and was able to achieve all of the goals he set while in the Support Link Program.
From the start, Jason took the expectations and responsibilities of the program very seriously. He had very clear goals for himself and he consistently carried out the steps to achieve these goals. Some of the goals that he worked on while in the Support Link Program was to work on his immigration paperwork and get his social insurance number so he could obtain employment while completing high school. Six months into the program, Jason enrolled in Adult Continuing Education, was able to obtain his Learner’s Driver’s license, and was able to learn how to budget and save money. Jason was also able to complete the Bootstraps training program, which is an employment-training program with Aunt Leah’s Place. In this program, Jason worked on completing his resume and had some great feedback from the trainers of the employment-training program. When Jason was aging out from the Support Link program, he was able to secure housing through Aunt Leah’s Lale House and was approved for his immigration, meaning he could stay in Canada and become a Permanent Resident.
Because of his outstanding performance in completing his goals, Jason qualifies to be on the Adult Young Agreement. He intends to take advantage of AYA, attend college and pursue his passion of being in the army, thus serving Canada, the country that he now calls home. Jason has shown enhanced growth in the Support Link program and wishes him all the best in future endeavors. It was a great pleasure working with Jason.
The Jeremy Wright Award was created to honour the memory of Jeremy Wright, a Support Worker, who was very special to the organization. The award is to recognize and support a Support Link youth with goals that they have set and are actively working towards. It is presented to a youth living in the Support Link Program who has strived to achieve their personal best and who most “follows their bliss.”
In Honour of Jeremy Wright
Andy moved from independent housing to Lale House, actively connecting with their support and working on life skills, and has shown himself to be someone of great personal strength.
Andy has grown as a result of the Bootstraps Program by waking up early, being prepared on time, setting a schedule, and keeping healthy habits such as returning to the gym after the easing of COVID-related restrictions. The SEETP Program helped challenge him to think and reflect more. Andy reached his employment goal, continues to maintain part-time employment and is on his way, building his skills in his chosen career path.
Aunt Leah’s Connections Program referred Andy to the Bootstraps program at the beginning of 2021 to find a second income when their employment hours were reduced in the restaurant industry due to COVID restrictions. During his time in the Bootstraps Program, Andy actively engaged and participated in a number of programs, including the Social Enterprise Employment Training Program (SEETP), Coffee Chats, POP workshops, and the Sharing Circle.
As Andy worked on his scheduling to attend the SEETP, his confidence and abilities evolved and was a positive influence on his fellow trainees’ attendance. Andy is always respectful and courteous, and over time became comfortable participating and sharing in workshops and during his employment training, often adding his humour.
Through the support of the Bootstraps Program, Andy successfully acquired a second job through his external networks in food preparation, and continued with this interest applying for a post-secondary Culinary Program, where he is currently enrolled.
This award is presented in honour of Rona Castagnier, a long time co-worker and friend of Aunt Leah’s Place. Rona was a very strong, kind, compassionate and proud person. Rona wouldn’t hesitate to give someone her last dollar if they were in need, even if it meant that she would go without. In honour of Rona, Aunt Leah’s gives an annual award and bursary to a participant from one of Aunt Leah’s Training Programs who has shown the characteristics that Rona appreciated the most.
In Honour of Rona Castagnier
Kaylie Page has been part of Aunt Leah’s family for over seven years. Kaylie has grown tremendously throughout her time with Aunt Leah’s. Kaylie has been successfully housed for many years and takes pride in taking care of her home. Kaylie’s determination, passion, and resourcefulness is an inspiration for both participants and staff.
Over the years, Kaylie has worked at Aunt Leah’s Tree Lots during the holiday season. In 2021, Kaylie took the next step and became a Tree Lot Manager. In her role as a Manager, Kaylie mentored and supported other Aunt Leah’s participants. Kaylie’s relationship-building and leadership skills were demonstrated throughout the Tree Lot season. Kaylie’s guidance and support were paramount to the success of other participants who worked at the Tree Lot.
Kaylie frequently visits Aunt Leah’s Place and her infectious laugh can often be heard throughout the office. Kaylie never hesitates to help out around the office and always does so with a smile. Kaylie often helps Link staff support, other participants, by taking her own time to talk them through moments of hardship. Kaylie has a strong drive to advocate and promote youth rights and enjoys suggesting fun activities and outings for participants to participate in.
Kaylie radiates positivity and embodies the spirit of the Champion Award. It is a pleasure to spend time with Kaylie and there is always laughter for both staff and participants when Kaylie is around. Kaylie has shared so many memorable times with staff and speaks of how being a part of Aunt Leah’s has given her a sense of family. We are lucky to have Kaylie as part of Aunt Leah’s family and are so proud of her!
In 2017 Aunt Leah’s community lost a dear friend, Jennifer McFarlane. Jennifer was the Human Resources Coordinator for Aunt Leah’s. Jennifer established connections with everyone at Aunt Leah’s using humour, laughter, thoughtfulness and appreciation. Jennifer loved that her work in Human Resources was part of a mission to work proactively at the ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ points of the foster care system, helping low-income families maintain custody of their children and supporting foster youth aging out of foster care.
Jennifer had a deep appreciation for the community of support established at Aunt Leah’s Place and the services provided. In honour of Jennifer, Aunt Leah’s is providing an annual award to an individual who has been active in championing for positive change for youth and families affected by the foster care system.
In Honour of Jennifer McFarlane