A Ryerson student organization is helping fight the battle against homelessness in Toronto with its latest charity initiative.
Engineers Without Borders Ryerson (EWB) raised over $2,000 at the launch of Ryerson TOgether, which is their new campaign that took place at the SLC Wednesday night. The focus of the campaign is to raise awareness and funds for youth homelessness in the GTA.
Fahim Khan, head of Ryerson TOgether, was inspired to help with an issue that directly affects the Ryerson community.
“We call ourselves an urban university and youth homelessness is an issue that urban Toronto suffers from,” said Khan about why they chose to help this cause.
“We believe in engagement, empowerment and empathy,” he said. “We believe that when students come together and engage with each other and try to bring together strong innovative solutions to solve different problems in our local community, the commitment towards the community can actually lead to a successful, positive, and sustainable social change.”
The night was set up as an auction, where guests bid money to throw whipped cream pies at several Ryerson student group executives.
Susanne Nyaga, current president of the Ryerson Students’ Union, was one executive who volunteered to be pied twice.
“When we talk about homelessness and see where Ryerson is located and we know that there are students who face homelessness on a daily basis, I think it’s really important that we start talking about it and bring awareness to it,” she said.
Funds raised from the Ryerson TOgether campaign will benefit Covenant House Toronto and Evergreen Yonge Street Mission. Both of these are local organizations that help fight youth homelessness in the community.
Michael Sheiner, a representative from Covenant House, said they are grateful for the help they receive from individuals and groups, including those at Ryerson.
“We need as much support as possible in order to raise the $27 million we need to run all of our programs and services that we provide to homeless, at risk and trafficked youth.”
Sheiner said that events and campaigns like Ryerson TOgether are a way to not only raise money but also to bring awareness to everything the organization does for youth homelessness.
“Covenant House not only just provides 24/7 crisis shelter, but we also work on trying to provide the youth that come to us for help with all of the information and support they need so they can eventually live independently,” said Sheiner.
This includes having a high school on site so youth can finish their diplomas, and a culinary arts program to help them learn life and job skills.
With the many extreme cold warnings Toronto has faced this winter so far, homelessness and the lack of shelters has been a prominent issue in the city. According to the City of Toronto’s website, daily shelters have occupancy rates of 93 per cent for men, 99 per cent for women and youth, and 100 per cent for families.
“By making a very small contribution, it can make a very lasting impact and that’s the goal for us,” said Khan. “We want to affect as many lives as we can.”
Engineers Without Borders Ryerson will continue holding events throughout the month.