Archive for the ‘Operation Come Home’ Category
Thursday, June 14th, 2012
Went to Operation Come Home today for a ceremony honouring students who graduated from the Rogers Achievement Centre. Four students got their high school or GED diplomas, and many more earned credits through the classroom at OCH downtown. It’s a great event every year, and watching the kids celebrating their success after overcoming enormous hurdles is always terrific. One of the best things about the ceremony this year was a video they showed, a little documentary made by two students at Ashbury College about Operation Come Home, the kids, and the charitable work they do. Check it out:
Way to go, Alexa and Cindy!
Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Huge thanks to everyone involved in the 24 Hours of Homelessness campaign which kicked off on Thursday and runs the whole month for Operation Come Home. A ton of volunteers came out to keep each other company over the 24 hours – a bunch of students at Carleton and Ottawa U doing their placements at Operation Come Home, and some terrific student volunteers from the Katimavik group.
I admire the energy of these young people, who managed to panhandle for donations for about 20 of the 24 hours, while I had to crash again at about 9:30 in the morning on Friday and catch a nice nap with the sun out. And a huge thanks to everyone who stopped by, made little donations and big donations, and offered words of encouragement – we managed to raise even more than we did last year, around $7,500.00!
This money is being put to great use – last year at Operation Come Home, we successfully reunited 60 youth with their parents, helped 23 find jobs, sent 4 back to school, employed 12 through our BottleWorks program, 2 through our BYBO program, and found permanent employment for 4 more youth through the Food Matters program. 97 kids participated in the BeadWorks program, representing 820 hours of work. We also graduated students from the Achievement Centre and found permanent housing for 4 kids through the Housing Works program.
The 24 Hours itself is over, but the “reality campaign” continues all month. There are still a number of ways you can help – here are some.
Looking for a reasonably priced, unique Valentine’s Day gift? Check out OCH’s BeadWorks store at 150 Gloucester street downtown – right across from L’Esplenade Laurier. Some unique jewelry ideas and a gigantic selection, all for a good cause.
Looking for beer? Order Beau’s beer from Beaus.ca, and it will be delivered by Operation Come Home’s BottleWorks program – all for a good cause!
Willing to open your home to some civic-minded young people for a week? The Katimavik volunteers come from all over Canada, and as part of their service-learning program they must spend six days with a host family in the community – and that time is approaching, they need families! The Katimavik kids are all between the ages of 17 and 21, and will be traveling to the Yukon to continue their charitable work when they are done in Ottawa. Click here to volunteer your home for a week.
Alright, that’s all I have to say on the subject for the time being. Now here’s a video of a kung fu fight.
Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Seven years ago, I joined three intrepid souls outside on the William Street mall for the 24 Hours of Homelessness event for Operation Come Home. Since then the event has grown enormously, with corporate sponsors like Scotiabank on Rideau helping out with major donations, and the number of people participating has increased as well.
This year, there will be 13 of us all told – eight placement students (who work at Operation Come Home as part of various school programs) and four Katimavik volunteers taking part in the event. It begins at 4:00 this afternoon on the William Street mall (right beside the Scotiabank on Rideau) and goes until 4:00 tomorrow afternoon…of course it does, it’s 24 hours. I know.
In past years, I have used this blog to post comments and thoughts and to keep track of our progress. This year, that will not be the case. The internet-hookup thingy we use is too finicky to be trusted, and they won’t let me have it anyway because I apparently “broke” it last year. Or something. Instead I will have the promo smart-phone thing which I think does Twitter. So follow me on Twitter here for updates.
In the meantime, you can make donations to OCH here, which would be greatly appreciated. Those donations go toward funding social enterprises (like Bottleworks, which recently announced a partnership with Beau’s beer and now provides home delivery of Beau’s for the charity), the OCH education program which has many graduates every year, and of course addiction services, the reunite program and all the other things OCH does.
Thursday, January 26th, 2012
We’re getting ready to head off to Vegas. Doc has put ME in charge of making sure we don’t get roofied. I’m torn between pointing out to him that The Hangover was fictional, and being offended that he doesn’t consider me to be the likeliest candidate to actually put roofies in his drink. I don’t think that’s the biggest worry though – I’m concerned about accidentally ordering a hooker by saying the wrong catch phrase to the wrong person.
At any rate, this will be my last post for a week, and I’d like this one to be up for the week – the 24 Hours of Homelessness event is coming up next Thursday. On the William Street mall (near the Sugar Mountain, just off Rideau Street), from 4:00 Thursday to 4:00 Friday, I will be sleeping outside to raise money and awareness for Operation Come Home.
I don’t know who’s going to be joining me this year, but usually some college kids and intrepid OCH volunteers join me, and I’m sure this year will be no exception. We spend the 24 hours outside, trying to draw attention to the fact that on any given night in Ottawa, 100 street youth will have to do the same, whether it’s wet, snowy or bitterly cold.
Any donations to Operation Come Home can be made by clicking that link, and be sure to tune in to the Doc and Woody show Friday morning, as I will be waking up on the street, trying to gather my thoughts and doing my best to speak through the cold in order to make sense on the radio.
Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Every year, the Great Canadian Theatre Company (herein referred to as GCTC) puts on a “lawyer play”. This is an event where Ottawa lawyers flex their acting chops and put on a play for a local charity. This year’s stage production is Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible, and runs from May 11th – May 14th, raising money for Operation Come Home. The May 11th show is a “Preview Night”, and tickets are $35 each. May 12th, 13th, and 14th are “gala nights”, tickets are $100 each (and youn get a $50 tax receipt), and they come with wine and a catered reception.
This event has raised more than $800,000 for local charities over the years, and I’m thrilled to announce that Operation Come Home will be this year’s recipient, thanks I’m sure to David Scott, big-time local lawyer, OCH board member, and this year – thespian! Other Ottawa legal professionals involved this year include Stephen Acker, Justice Robert Beaudoin, Tara Berish, Dan Caron, Mitchell Charness, Carol Cochrane, Siobahn Doody, Leanne Fioravanti, Ella Forbes-Chilibeck, Julia Kennedy, Stephanie Lewis, Ted Mann, Justice Colin McKinnon, Natasha Morley, Sig Pantazis, Janice Payne, Rakhi Ruparelia, John Nelligan, Regional Senior Judge Charles Hackland, and Jeremy Waiser.
Daniel Hohnstein plays John Proctor, a practical farmer whose sexual indiscretion sparked a young woman’s quest for revenge that spiralled out of control into a merciless witch hunt. Peter Doody plays Deputy Government Danforth, a renowned yet ruthless Boston judge in charge of spearheading the witch hunt and presiding over the trials. Steve Kennedy plays Reverend John Hale, a specialist in the dark arts who is brought in to seek out the Devil and his accomplices in the town of Salem.
Monday, April 18th, 2011
For several years now, Operation Come Home has run a program called Bead Works, where kids make jewelry – necklaces, bracelets and other trinkets – in one of our most successful social enterprises. Kids learn business acumen and the program has become a huge success. Now that Operation Come Home has moved to a much bigger location on Gloucester Street, we are now able to open an actual 9-5 store selling the crafts created by the kids. Grand opening is April 28th at 4:00 in the afternoon. Stop by!
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
One hour to go, and it’s time to pack everything up and get it all in the truck to go home. Before I left the station yesterday morning, I was told two things – make sure the truck doesn’t get dirty, and don’t use the base of the internet modem because last time you were out there it came back kinda loose! I laughed. So…would you like me to take off my boots when I get in the car to blog? Hold the modem out the window and type with one hand? What, exactly, do you think I’m doing out here?
I think I’m in the clear though. I used the base, but it seems study. And since the modem wasn’t working at all until about 8:00 this morning, I haven’t been in the truck much at all. We’ll see if I’m appropriately chastised for not putting the cup holders back in the proper way tomorrow morning. In the meantime, we’re done here. Lots of money raised for www.operationcomehome.ca, lots of awareness created, and many terrific and generous people stopping by.
One final thought before I pack up this computer and go – many people like to stop by and rag on the kids, complain about the government and generally place the blame on the individuals in this situation. One lady came by last night and started yelling about “get a job, you don’t have to be out here”. She said SHE had a fifteen year old, and that he had a job already and went to school and so forth. I asked her if she would let her son drive her car. She said no, he wasn’t old enough. I asked if she would like to see him vote. She said he had no idea what the issues were, why would he want to vote? My point being – if a fifteen year old can’t be trusted to drive, or to vote, or to buy alcohol or to smoke cigarettes, how can anyone say they’re responsible for their own situation when they end up on the streets?
Whether they’re there because of abusive, dangerous home lives or because they are rebellious and just want out, the situation is the same. They’re not old enough to be expected to make the right decisions at this time in their lives, and they need the direction and guidance of people who know the ropes and know what lies ahead. And with any luck, what lies ahead is NOT more homelessness, but an escape from life on the streets, a job, a home and a paycheck. And that’s what Operation Come Home does. We provide that assistance to those kids who want it. And we’re doing it now more than ever.
Operation Come Home has expanded immeasurably in the last few years, and we’re moving to a bigger building again this week. That’s because more and more kids are trusting the program, seeing the results of the program, and wanting to be a part of it. That’s an incredibly positive sign. And it means OCH is making inroads in the community. In fact, I can see the change in the six years I’ve been doing this – when we first started the 24 hours of homelessness campaign, many kids resented us. They called us the “fake homeless” and felt like we were making fun of them. In the intervening six years, the vibe has changed enormously, to the point where this year three of the kids stayed out all night with us, making sure we weren’t hassled.
We want the trend to continue, and we want to build on this success. So thank you so much to everyone who donated or stopped by to wish us well today. And to those who posted friendly messages on facebook. Messages that I managed to get as of 8:00 this morning. OK, going home! Thanks again!
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Just slept for about two and a half hours. It was a better sleep today than it was last night, amazingly. Maybe i’m just that much more tired than I was last night. Woke up when the Mission dropped by to bring us a simple yet tremsndously satisfying pasta meal. Couple of places to thank – The Mission, who brought us food a couple of times while we were sleeping out here. We’re beside a Scotiabank, and Scotiabank made a substantial corporate donation to Operation Come Home this year www.operationcomehome.ca Also the street outreach program, who dropped by with hand warmers and snacks, and of course the people of Operation Come Home who brought us sleeping bags and laid out our cardboard. In two hours, I’m going to go home and sleep in my warm-ass comfy bed, or maybe on the couch in front of a hot fire after a long hot bath. These kids are not. They will do this again tonight. That’s what this is about.
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
One more thing – my buddy Van came by last night to take some pictures. He runs a photo business, and wanted some shots for his portfolio. Of course we accepted – you can check out all the pictures at his website, here. Also, tune in to the CBC or CTV news at noon, we’ll be on both. And a video will go up on the Ottawa Sun website this afternoon some time, and likely there will be a story in the paper tomorrow morning. OK. NOW I’m gonna try to nap.
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
Because the internet is finally working out here, I’m trying to get everything in now…we’re all frozen. Shaun was sick and had to go home. A few of the girls had to go to work (at OCH), so they’re now in the building. Only Thomas, Brigitte, Jess and myself remain for the moment. Street outreach came by last night and brought us snacks and hot pockets. The Mission came by later with sandwiches and apples. Some kind CHEZ listeners brought coffee to all of us this morning, and the OCH crew have stopped by now and then with other accoutrements. The support system is out there, it works, it’s just too bad it’s so badly needed.
Let’s see…what’s happened…the snowplows woke us up at 1:00. Then again at 3:00. There wasn’t nearly enough snow to plow, let alone plow it twice. The bars let out at 2:00, and some really cool kids stopped by to yell at us to get a job and go home. What a hilarious bunch of cut-ups they were. They were like “get a job, ya bums” and I was like “get sober – it’s Wednesday!” Some of the kids stayed with us throughout most of the night – Phil is still wrapped in a sleeping bag and fast asleep, the others left around 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. They wanted to make sure people left us alone. For the most part, they did.
Now we’re all frozen stiff. The toes are the worst – most of us have boots that say “good to -40 degrees”, or some such thing. I don’t know what that is supposed to mean. It obviously doesn’t mean it will keep your toes warm at -7. The next thing to go are your exposed facial features. Were I to do this for days at a time, I’m not sure how I could keep my nose from falling off my face. I’m amazed that homeless kids in Ottawa don’t look like clones of late-life Michael Jackson. Now my fingers are really feeling it, which is making typing difficult. So I’m going to stop doing that, and try to get in a little nap before we’re done. If such a thing is possible now. www.operationcomehome.ca