When a representative from Covenant House Toronto gave a presentation at her workplace a few years ago, Jessie Wang was struck by the realities that youth experiencing homelessness face in her city.
“I realized just how much of a struggle it is,” says the director of corporate finance at rental housing company Tricon Residential. “You have to worry about your food, your safety, about school or work. It’s unbelievable what young people go through.”
As soon as the opportunity to take part in Sleep Out: Champions Edition arose, Jessie signed up immediately. Within 24 hours of floating the idea to a colleague that they participate together, they formed a solid team.
“I wasn’t surprised because I always knew the people I work with are very into promoting social causes, that they’re a group that takes action,” says Jessie, who has taken on the role of team captain.
But she was quickly surprised by their fundraising power: within three weeks, they became Sleep Out’s top fundraising team, having generated upwards of $40,000 to support youth experiencing homelessness and sex trafficking in Toronto.
“What’s really heartwarming is that people are throwing in everything they can to really help out this cause,” Jessie says, noting her employer’s generous move to match individual donations and the way her friend, a coffee shop owner, recently held a tasting event with all proceeds going to support Jessie’s Sleep Out effort.
It helps as well to have an employer that wants to be part of the solution to Toronto’s ongoing housing crisis.
“Tricon is a company that believes that housing unlocks life’s potential,” Jessie says. “We’re really aligned with Covenant House Toronto’s aim in providing shelter and food and education to unlock the potential of youth experiencing homelessness.”
The team of 13 is looking forward to May 4, the night they will roll out their sleeping bags side by side and give up their beds so Covenant House Toronto can provide shelter and support to more youth in need.
Though Jessie doesn’t expect their lively team to do a lot of sleeping.
“I think with our group, it’s going to be a very loud night, we may not sleep at all.”