Photo © Courtesy of The Dam
At just 16 years old, Philip found himself in an unimaginable position. Alone and overwhelmed, he struggled to figure out his next move. Where would he go for help? What would he do for food? How would he maintain a roof over his head? He heard about food being served at lunch at a youth drop-in and thought he’d begin there.
A few blocks away, 15-year-old Jahsaviour was motivated, looking for volunteer hours to complete his high school requirements early. Desiring something that would make a difference, he checked out The Dam, a drop-in youth program across from the school.
Philip and Jahsaviour were greeted at the door, immediately noticing the buzz of voices and laughter in the air. In the distance, they heard the sound of billiards and video games. The two boys sat together on the big leather sofa and struck up a conversation as they gathered their food. Led to The Dam through different circumstances, one looking for belonging, the other for leadership opportunities, Philip and Jahsaviour found a connection over food and a pool table.
The Dam was founded 26 years ago in Mississauga with a vision to stop the flow of youth from becoming homeless in Toronto. Now operating two drop-ins in the neighbourhoods of Cooksville and Meadowvale, The Dam has discovered the importance of a community space that supports all youth.
Although Philip and Jahsaviour came from different backgrounds, with different needs, they both found what they were looking for and so much more. Philip found daily meals at The Dam, giving him peace of mind and the space to focus on completing high school and keeping his part-time jobs to pay for his rent. Jahsaviour more than completed his volunteer hours at The Dam, gaining significant skills that he knows will benefit him as he moves into his chosen career path. On top of that, the friendship that Philip and Jahsaviour forged with each other and their mentors at The Dam made a positive impact on their high school journey. There are so many stories like Philip and Jahsaviour’s, stories about youth not just overcoming adversity but also finding the support that they may not have even thought they needed.
The pandemic has taken the natural support found in schools, sports, arts, and extended family—youth need the inclusive community of The Dam to help them move on. The drop-in program at The Dam provides the resources that youth require while also creating a safe space for discussion and support.
A regular donor of The Dam says, “Coming out of the pandemic, there are many challenges for youth, so this is a particularly great time to make sure that the staff at The Dam have all of the resources required to meet the needs of the youth. Their focus on building relationships with youth in the community and mentoring them matches our idea of investing in people. When we invest in The Dam financially, they can invest in the lives of youth relationally, creating impactful and lasting change!”
Invest in The Dam by donating, volunteering, or walking with us Feb. 22nd at thedam.org/getinvolved
Over 25 years, The Dam has been helping youth through youth programming and development. We CAN tell you what happens when young people thrive.