Aunt Leah’s is a local Vancouver charity that has been around for a little over 3 decades. Their goal when starting the charity was to put light on the challenges that the youth leaving the BC foster care system are confronted with. Since their beginnings, they have expanded their work and continue to help the BC foster care community. We spoke with Braydon Chapelas, Communications and Marketing Specialist to learn more.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Aunt Leah’s was founded over 35 years ago to address the challenging circumstances that youth leaving BC foster kids face when they leave government care.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We aim to prevent young women from losing their children to foster care and offer youth exiting the foster care system the support they need to build successful lives. We provide housing, life skills, education and employment opportunities and counselling and referral services that lead to brighter futures. We work to create an environment where all children connected to the foster care system have equal opportunities akin to what parented children receive.
When did you start/join it?
Initially began my time at Aunt Leah’s during the summer of 2017, on a Canada summer jobs contract. After this experience, I left the organization before returning in January 2018 as the Communications and Marketing Assistant.
What made you want to get involved?
My lived experience in foster care and my own journey through Aunt Leah’s programs made me want to join the organization.
What was the situation like when you started?
When I first started, we supported a significantly smaller group of young people. Over the years, more youth have become aware of our organization and the different programs we offer, furthering our ability to support an increased number of current and former foster youth and young families. Over time our staff has continued to grow, as we have seen an increase in young people accessing Aunt Leah’s.
How has it changed since?
Aunt Leah’s has expanded our housing options to offer affordable supported housing in a variety of models – shared housing, individual suites and encouraging landlords to rent suites at below-market rates (The Friendly Landlord Network). We offer a wide range of fundamental Life Skills learning programs that enable youth to access financial resources from the provincial government.
What more needs to be done?
Finding affordable, stable, safe housing for youth is our priority at this time. 50% of homeless youth in Metro-Vancouver have had experience with the foster care system and 11% indicated “aging out” of government care as the reason for first experiencing homelessness. We own and manage 5 housing facilities and need to increase what we can offer to meet the needs of our participants.
How can our readers help?
Do you have any events coming up?
Not right now, but we invite everyone to visit Aunt Leah’s Thrift Store at 3328 Fraser St. in Vancouver. Aunt Leah’s Thrift is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 am – 4 pm and Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm. If you would like to donate to Aunt Leah’s Thrift, you can make a donation by scheduling an appointment (please call 604-230-0941 or email).
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?