For the month of January, our Community Initiative of the Month is Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY)!
Resource Assistance for Youth, Inc. (RaY) is a non-profit street-level agency working with street-entrenched and homeless youth up to the age of 29. RaY is non-judgmental and non-partisan, employing a harm reduction approach to all interactions with youth in need. Their mission is “To provide youth with what they need, on their terms, to better their lives.”
We had the opportunity to ask Kate Armstrong, Communications & Public Relations Coordinator, some questions about RaY so we could learn more about the important work they do in our community.
TELL US ABOUT RaY.
For many young people, staying home isn't an option... they don't have a home. Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY) is a frontline service agency that provides programs and services for homeless and marginalized youth in Winnipeg and beyond. For over 25 years, RaY has empowered disconnected youth through supports, training, and compassion to encourage them to make the best possible choices. Their mission is to provide youth with what they need, on their terms, to better their lives. From housing and basic needs to employment and cultural supports, RaY aims to meet a wide variety of needs. Your support enables them to provide much needed supports during a pandemic that has disproportionately affected them.
TELL US ABOUT HOW RaY LIVES OUT THEIR MISSION "TO PROVIDE YOUTH WITH WHAT THEY NEED, ON THEIR TERMS, TO BETTER THEIR LIVES".
RaY lives its mission every day in the way we support young people. We are a non-judgmental organization that accepts any and all youth ages 29 and under. Our staff are strong advocates who believe in the strengths of the youth we see and are passionate about helping youth access the resources they need. We take a harm reduction approach, meeting youth where they're at, no matter their challenges and no matter their backgrounds. That's why "on their terms" is such a critical part of our mission.
HOW HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED RaY AND THE WORK YOU DO IN THE COMMUNITY?
COVID-19 has created even more barriers for youth in our community. Trying to "stay home" when you are experiencing homelessness is impossible, and while public spaces are closed so too are access to hand washing and hygiene facilities. Throughout the pandemic, RaY has continued to help youth find supportive, transitional, and permanent housing, even while landlords didn't want to show apartments and furniture depots were closed. RaY's Street Outreach team continued to drive around the city, providing life-saving access to naloxone overdose-prevention kits, decked out in PPE and providing services for youth on the streets when so many service providers were closed.
WHY ARE THE SERVICES PROVIDED BY RaY SO ESSENTIAL FOR THOSE WHO RECEIVE THE SERVICES?
RaY is essential not just for providing basic needs like food and clothing, or even access to housing, mental health, and training services. RaY provides a safe space and a sense of belonging for young people. If RaY doesn't offer a service, the staff probably knows who does offer it and can help young people navigate the complex and challenging services available to youth.
A portion of sales from all cupcakes from both in-store pick up at our shop on Academy and from SkipTheDishes from Academy and The Forks will be donated to RaY throughout the month of January. Your support allows RaY to continue providing critical frontline services within the challenges of the pandemic, ensuring youth have access to the resources they need, when they need them most. This includes basic needs like food and hygiene items, housing supports, access to mental health and addictions services, employment and training programs, cultural programs, and more. Your support allows RaY the flexibility to respond and adapt to the changing needs of youth and of the pandemic.
To learn more about RaY, click here.