Pennies add up to big change

Young Parents Support Network one of five charities helped this year through Black Press' Pennies for Presents program

Samantha Hosie

Samantha Hosie

Society may look down its nose at teen parents, but they’re the ones running the show at the Young Parents Support Network.

“We have a board of directors who are current or past participants, as well as young parents who are very tuned into what the parents we work with want as programs,” said Young Parents Support Network program co-ordinator Margo d’Archangelo.

The Young Parents Support Network, a small, non-profit group that has helped young parent families around Greater Victoria since 1994, offers support to parents between the ages of 13 and 29. It assists with family support, prenatal outreach, parenting education, a naturopath clinic, a free store, a workout group and more.

The group serves 170 families; participants choose the programs that are most suited to their needs.

“A large portion of the population we serve are in tricky economic situations,” said d’Archangelo. “A large portion of them are also well below what is considered to be low income.”

The Young Parents Support Network provides group, one-on-one and in-home services to young parent families. “It’s open to everybody. You can still be really isolated even if you’re (not low income),” she said.

The Young Parents Support Network is there to help young parents cope with one of the biggest challenges in life – raising kids.

“The youngest of the young parents use the service most intensely,”  d’Archangelo said. “They cycle through, then things become more stable and they become more committed to give back to the community.”

The organization is funded entirely by donations including those that come through the United Way, the Community Action Initiative, the Victoria Foundation and the Community Action Program for Children.

“We’re really respectful, and therefore really responsible, to the population we work with. We’re right here listening to their needs. Sometimes a program that’s really needed doesn’t get to continue because there’s no funding,” d’Archangelo said.

This year Black Press’ Pennies for Presents fundraiser will help five organizations including the Young Parents Support Network, the Mary Manning Centre, Threshold Housing Society, Victoria READ Society and suicide prevention group, NEED2.

Pennies for Presents has raised about $618,000 for local charities since the campaign’s inception 15 years ago.

Last year, more than $12,000 was generated by businesses, schoolchildren and readers of the Victoria News, Saanich News, Oak Bay News, Goldstream News Gazette and Monday Magazine.

How you can help

Cash donations can be dropped off at Black Press head office, 818 Broughton St. and at the Goldstream News Gazette, 117-777 Goldstream Ave. in Langford.

For a list of businesses that are accepting donations, watch for notices in the Victoria News and Victoria News Daily.

• Schools interested in participating can call 250-381-3633 ext. 269 or email kslavin@saanichnews.com.