Cyrus leaps to help kids at risk
by Peter Biggs
“Where do I go? Is that park safe to sleep at? What about that boarded-up house; can I find refuge there? Maybe under the bridge? I am so alone!”
Every three years a homelessness count is performed in all Lower Mainland municipalities. Overall, the area spanning from Langley to Chilliwack saw its homeless population increase by 86 per cent, compared to a 19-per-cent rise in Vancouver. One in five homeless is under 19.
“Everything I have is in this back pack; I can’t go home, my mom doesn’t want me. In fact, she won’t speak to me anymore, and couch surfing has worn out.” says one young adult, preferring to remain anonymous.
Cyrus Centre, started in 2004, continues to offer much-needed resources to youth at risk in the Fraser Valley.
With no real downtown centre that has high office buildings, it is easy to think of Abbotsford as a country town and yet, especially in recent years, it is experiencing all the social challenges of urban life – including displaced young people.
Youth drop in for many reasons; some need a meal, some need to find a way home; others need help to fill out forms so they can get ID, financial support or a job. They all need a safe place to be – and to experience love and acceptance.
At the Resource Centre, Youth Workers provide an array of as-needed services to youth.
Abbotsford’s Cyrus Centre (they have another one in Chilliwack), had 13,316 visits from kids in 2017.
Youth who have been out of the home, or on the streets for a long time often become resistant to accessing structured support programs. A visit to Cyrus can represent a big first step for them to come inside, perhaps for a much-needed meal (they served nearly 10,000 meals last year).
In July, the annual Cyrus fundraiser, Leap of Faith, took place. Participants raised pledges and then took part in a Tandem Skydive. Being tandem, anyone can do it, there’s no experience necessary! Funds raised through the event provide homeless and vulnerable youth with programs, support and emergency services, including housing.