Michele Davis hosts the annual Souper Bowls of Hope, which raises funds for the Youth Empowerment Society, offering an array of services for Capital Region youth and their family and caregivers. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Say YES! to empowering local youth for success

As one of our Women Making a Difference, the Victoria News was pleased to introduce you to Michele Davis, co-ordinator of the popular annual event Souper Bowls of Hope.

The event, founded by longtime organizer Helen Hughes, is a much-anticipated feature of the local calendar – after all, guests who come to the event for a meal get to keep the bowl as a reminder of the event and the needs that it represents.

The event is a vital fundraiser for the non-profit Youth Empowerment Society.

Founded in 1992, the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society, or YES, offers services for the diverse youth community and their family and caregivers throughout the Capital Region.

As the needs have changed and diversified over the years, so has YES, says executive director Pat Griffin.

Growing from a staff of four to 60 today, and with an initial budget of $150,000 now at $2 million, the needs continue to grow for youth, Griffin says.

Through the years, the Society has evolved from an agency primarily focused on street-entrenched youth to one providing prevention, intervention, treatment and education for youth, their families/caregivers and the broader community.

The wide array of services offered by YES include a downtown drop-in for those age 19 and younger – which saw 12,000 visits last year – youth and family counselling, a five-bed youth detox program, community outreach, referrals, a missing youth system, assistance with issues related to health, addictions, mental health, advocacy, basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing and emergency crisis response.

YES also supports youth through life skills training, independent living support/transitional planning, employment, education and more.

In addition to initiatives including drop-in services and the 10-bed Kiwanis Emergency Youth Shelter, innovative ideas include community kitchen and garden programs and the Down to Earth program, launched in spring 2017 to provide youth with outdoor recreational activities – promoting healthy recreation, pro-social relationships and self-growth while providing a safe place for youth to be and learn new skills.

Learn more – including how you can get involved – at vyes.ca. Follow the Souper Bowls of Hope news at facebook.com/souperbowlsofhope.

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