Monday, February 9, 2009

Operation Go Home.

OK, it's that time of year where I get preachy again, only this time I'm preachy with more of a purpose. For the past three years I have done Operation Go Home's 24 Hours of Homelessness challenge just off Rideau Street in that Sugar Mountain - Scotiabank mini-mall. I can't remember what it's called. We'll be back there this year, doing it again. In the past, we have solicited minor donations from passers-by, but it has mostly been an event to raise awareness of Operation Go Home as they kick off their fundraising drive for the year. This time, we want to raise as much money as we can on that first day, to get the ball rolling on what hopefully will be a major fundraising campaign. The event takes place from Thursday, February 19th at 4:00 p.m. to Friday, February 20th at 4:00 p.m. Hopefully this year won't be like last, where it was -25 and my sleeping bag came apart. With any luck it will be -10 and not snow.

This is the point of the event, however. It's supposed to be cold, it's supposed to be unpleasant. This is the life for many kids in the Ottawa area, kids who live on the streets. And there are lots of them, make no mistake, this is a problem in this region. There are no shelters for kids. There are just homeless shelters for adults. Kids are allowed to go there, but they never do. It's too dangerous for them, and the threat of violence and other horrible things is all too real. So if they can't find a warm place for the night, they are left with no recourse but to sleep outside. We'll be doing it for 24 hours, but this is a reality that could happen for these kids on any given night of the winter time.

Operation Go Home is a charitable organization, with no government funding whatsoever, that seeks to get these kids off the streets. Their mission statement is basically to help the homeless kids before they become homeless adults. Over the past three years, I've seen their operation in detail, and I have met many of these kids. They are out on the streets for a variety of reasons. Some of them just hated living at home, and the streets seemed glamorous. Others became addicted to drugs and wound up homeless and broke. But most seem to have fled from home to escape abuse. OGH tries to reunite kids with their families across Canada as much as possible. Those who can go home, hopefully will. And for those who can't, the drop-in centre provides them with some education, a few meals a day, and help getting back on their feet.

For a homeless kid, that is harder than it seems. Most don't have any ID of any kind, not even a birth certificate. Which means they can't become employed, which means they will never be able to afford an apartment. OGH helps them get the identification they require, helps them set up job interviews and helps them get apartments to get them off the streets before it's too late. This year, the fundraising season kicks off today, and I'm putting the link up here so people can make donations if they so choose. There are ads running on CHEZ right now, talking about the event, and they say to go to to make a donation. I think that page will be up fairly soon, but until it actually exists, here is the link:

Here is the link to their website, which explains everything OGH does in the community:

Any amount helps, any amount is greatly appreciated. Last year, people came up to me for months after the event, giving me five dollars here, two dollars there. Including one very sweet little boy who brought me a loonie and some nickels at a concert event. Of course, I'm happy to take donations in that form and deliver them to Operation Go Home at the next event. But hopefully this pledge form will make it easier, and you can always stop by and see us at the William Street Mall. There - I remembered what it's called!


  1. I hope you are giving out "a swift kick in the arse" to these kids when you are out there?

  2. I'm not in the habit of correcting people, but Youth Services Bureau offers shelter services to both young men and women ages 12+
    Check it out...great organization!

    ps. Mr. Ted & I miss you!!