Souper Bowls of Hope, in support of Victoria Youth Empowerment Society (YES), is back on April 4 at a new location, the Crystal Garden.
Julie-Anne Hunter, program director for YES, says the changes she sees in the young people using the society’s programming show just how important it is to support these services.
“Every youth is on their own path, but what I see is that over time they’ve developed trust in reaching out for support,” says Hunter. “That can be anything from really serious situations to they just need help doing their taxes for the first time.”
Attendees, or souper heroes to the organizers, will spend their lunchtime bidding on silent auction items, chef-made soups and local bread while learning how their support is changing the lives of at-risk youth in Victoria’s downtown. As a thank you, attendees will walk away with a one-of-a-kind handmade and painted bowl.
This year’s event is focused on Helen’s Place, the YES downtown drop-in centre named in honour of Helen Hughes, founder of Souper Bowls of Hope. Youth between the ages of 13 to 21 have access to supports and services at the centre to store their belongings, access showers, toiletries and clean clothes, enjoy a home-cooked meal or just spend a few hours away from life on the street.
“[Helen’s Place] makes sure that not only are young people getting their basic needs met, but they’re getting the needs on top of those met too,” says Hunter. “That they’re getting their counseling support, that they’re feeling comfortable, that we can help them get what they need to move on and succeed in their plans.”
Over 13,000 young people have been supported by YES since 1992. It provides a growing list of services, programs and referral options to help youth facing homelessness, addiction, abuse and other significant challenges.
The fundraiser has brought in over $1.2 million to support these programs over the past 20 years. At this year’s event Victoria fire and police departments will be volunteering to serve lunch.
“They directly work with the kids on the street so they see it all first hand and they know how important it is for the event to be a success,” says Michele Davis, organizer of the event. “
Soups from the kitchens of Fairmont Empress, Union Club, Cheryl’s Gourmet Pantry and 10 Acre Bistro go onto attendees’ plates, with the Victoria High School R&B Band providing entertainment that’s sure to be a good time for a good cause. In addition to lunch, there will be raffles, a live and silent auction that includes a WestJet ‘Gift of Flight’ package for two people, and five Capital Iron gift certificates worth $500 each.
“Teenagers are a funny breed all by themselves, but when you add all these extra layers of complexity — there’s a lot of kids who really need these extra services,” says Davis. “If [YES] wasn’t able to provide the services that they do then a huge majority of these kids would end up in our homeless adult population.”
Tickets for the event are $50 and can be purchased at souperbowls.com.
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