Tashian Segura (clockwise from left)

Tashian Segura (clockwise from left)

Giving makes a difference

Teen Junction is giving businesses a chance to help make a difference in the lives of local youth with its No Place Like Home holiday appeal

As much as clients might appreciate a greeting card, calendar or box of chocolates this holiday season, businesses are being urged to make their holiday giving really count this year.

The Teen Junction is giving businesses a chance to help make a difference in the lives of local youth with its No Place Like Home holiday appeal.

“We’ve all received the token gift of chocolates or a coffee card at Christmas from a casual acquaintance or business we deal with,” said Bill Miller, president of the Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society of the North Okanagan (which operates Teen Junction). “While we have nothing against the chocolate or coffee industries, our goal is to create a more meaningful way of extending holiday greetings while supporting a great local cause.”

Teen Junction provides free meals, snacks, computer access and activities to youth 13 to 18 Monday to Friday after school.

“These are our most vulnerable youth so they need a little extra support,” said Wendy Aasen, executive director.

But for the youth, Teen Junction is like a home away from home for them.

“I keep coming because I like it. It’s a family away from family,” said Rian Roussel, 17, who discovered the centre earlier this year and comes every day. “In fact, Teen Junction is the place where I’ve met most of my friends.”

Teen Junction co-ordinator Nicole Makohoniuk sees the difference the centre makes in the lives of kids who are struggling, have tough problems at home or are at risk of getting into drugs or alcohol.

“Thanksgiving when we were sitting around the table they were thankful for their Junction family,” said Makohoniuk, adding that a $25 donations feeds 20 kids for the day while $75 covers the weekly budget for outings and activities.

While the teens get to hang out and have fun, they are also learning and growing through vocational outreach and community involvement.

You might catch them ringing bells for the Salvation Army Food Bank kettle campaign this year, which is just one way they give back. Programs such as FoodSafe and First Aid are also being looked at to give the youth skills for the future.

Businesses or individuals interested in supporting the cause will be sent e-cards, or paper greeting cards, which describe their gift and how it is making a difference.

“By making it easy for people and businesses to select a cause, make a donation, and communicate their support, we are hoping to raise money to build on the wonderful services and programs we offer at Teen Junction,” said Miller.

To make a donation that counts visit www.teenjunctionyouthcentre.ca or drop off or mail donations to Teen Junction Youth Centre, 3104 37th Avenue, Vernon, B.C. V1T 2Y2