Kingston, ON – United Way’s Honorary Patron and local philanthropist A. Britton Smith has made a gift of $1.2 million, through the United Way, to support a home for homeless youth, age 16-19 years, where they will be nurtured and helped to turn their lives around.
“It is very disturbing to think of young people without a place to sleep at night,” says Mr. Smith. “This will give them a stepping stone on which to build their lives.”
Mr. Smith’s gift will make possible the establishment of one new home complete with additional beds and full-time staff support. The Kingston Youth Shelter, an agency with experience providing support for homeless youth, will be charged with creating the new home with additional beds for youth and 24/7 staff support. “I am grateful to the United Way for bringing this to my attention,” says Mr. Smith, “and am happy to support it financially. I hope this gift will inspire others to join me in helping to transform lives of people in our region.”
United Way board chair, Susan Nicholson, describes this as an historic moment. “We cannot thank Brit enough for all he does for our community, especially through the United Way. A transformational gift of this size will help us to address the root causes of issues like youth homelessness. Philanthropic gifts, such as this, go a long way in having a significant impact.”
Kingston has one of the country’s highest proportions of youth in its city shelters. One third are young people. The national average is one in five. More transitional and supported housing for young people is urgently needed, and Mr. Smith’s support will make a significant difference. The United Way has been working with local agencies, funders, partners and volunteers to coordinate a local initiative to end youth homelessness in Kingston and area.
2016 marks the 75th year of the United Way in Kingston. Mr. Smith’s donation is its first million-dollar gift.
United Way President & CEO Bhavana Varma says Kingston is a generous community, raising funds every year to support local programs. “Thousands of people support programs that meet immediate needs through our agencies,” she says. “Additionally, by securing philanthropic gifts of this size we can address root causes of issues that impact our community. We are so grateful to Mr. Smith for his inspiring generosity.”
For more information about youth homelessness in Kingston and area and the United Way, click here
Bhavana Varma, United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington