Raise the Roof Toques: Ending Youth Homelessness in Lanark

Winter toques to support Raising the Roof

Anyone looking for the perfect holiday gift that warms the head and the heart need look no further than the Raising the Roof Toques. These hats are currently on sale in Perth courtesy of the folks at Cornerstone Landing, who work to prevent and end youth homelessness in Lanark County.

Raising the Roof is a national campaign that, for the past 17 years, has raised millions of dollars to support a variety of social service agencies that are working to end homelessness across the country. Partner groups such as Cornerstone Landing receive 80% of the proceeds of toque sales (black and grey models all sell for $10). The national campaign works with some 145 partner agencies.

Cornerstone Landing’s work very much ties in with the national campaign, which focuses on raising awareness and understanding of the issue of homelessness, identifying barriers and solutions to the issue, providing tools and resources for those who work to alleviate homelessness, encouraging networking and sharing of best practices, and engaging individuals, communities and the private sector in solutions. Cornerstone Landing provides rent supplements, gift certificates and other supports, as long as the affected individual stays in school and works towards course completion.

A report issued earlier this year identified Canada’s homeless population at upwards of 300,000 people, with a third of them young people. Raising the Roof notes that families are the fastest-growing segment of Canada’s homeless population, and for the next three years, the national organization will place a special focus on developing a preventative/early intervention framework to address family homelessness.

A report on youth joblessness issued by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives last month also painted a bleak outlook for young people trying to break out of the cycle of poverty, revealing that Ontario has the highest rate of youth unemployment of any province outside of Atlantic Canada. Figures compiled by the Ottawa-based think tank reveal that youth joblessness figures rival those of the worst-hit areas of the U.S. rust belt.

“It is no understatement to point out that a lot of young people are in crisis, with one symptom of that crisis being insecure and precarious housing, couch surfing, and never knowing from day to day if one will have a place to study, to have some private, quiet time, or to have a shower,” explains Cornerstone Landing’s community coordinator Matthew Behrens. “That’s why we’re really honoured to be part of Raising the Roof, which has been in this struggle to end homelessness for the long haul. We’re also incredibly lucky to have such supportive local boosters in the stores that are selling the toques.”

To purchase a toque to support Cornerstone Landing, visit one of several Perth locations: Jo’s Clothes (39 Foster Street), Barnabe’s Your Independent Grocer (at the customer service desk), and Fiddleheads Bar and Grill (across from Stewart Park).

While Cornerstone is currently working to keep a number of young people both housed and in school, the organization also provides guest speakers for local churches, service clubs, and other groups interested in learning more about the issue and how they can get involved.

For further information on volunteering and other ways of supporting some of the country’s most vulnerable residents, call 613–267–3998 or visit the website.

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