Helping at-risk youth turn their lives around

From an early age, Kareem got into trouble with the law. After serving a sentence in teenage custody in 2016, he was left alone to support himself because his parents had left the country. He started dealing drugs and even after being shot, he continued to live like this until he was arrested just after he turned 18.e birthday. Spending time in prison was a real wake-up call for Kareem.

After serving his sentence and completing his parole, at the suggestion of a former probation officer, he entered the Fernie halfway house and soon became involved in the Fernie Works employment program. With the stability of secure housing and employment, he began working on other life goals: improving relationships, building a lasting routine, and finding employment with potential. Now, with this new confidence and this new opportunity, Kareem has an intense work ethic and a bright future.

Kareem’s early story is not unusual. For many vulnerable young people, there are no support systems available and the potential for their future is limited. That’s why Fernie Youth Services is an essential resource for at-risk youth in the Greater Toronto Area.

Fernie Youth Services is a non-profit organization that has operated in Scarborough and served the GTA since 1964. success in seven pillar areas: navigating the justice system, housing, mental health, employment, education, life skills and recreation,” says Madison Perdue, Resource Development Coordinator for Fernie Youth Services .

Young people often come to Fernie through probation officers or other social intervention programs. many also participate in a Fernie program called Youth Transition Services, a community reintegration program. “Caseworkers visit open and secure custody facilities and work one-on-one with young people to guide them into a purposeful adult life away from the justice system,” says Perdue.

Although most of Fernie Youth Services’ funding comes from the provincial government, they also rely on the support of the Toronto community to help them help more than 250 young people each year.

The holiday gift catalog that Fernie Youth Services has developed is a way for members of the public to help make small differences in the lives of these at-risk youth. “We created this gift catalog to symbolize that even small things, like a certification course, can really change their vision of the future,” says Perdue. “Most of these young people come to us without hope. But we know that just one donation can make a difference, especially during a time of year that is very lonely and devastating for people without healthy support systems.

The gifts in the catalog are as unique as the young people who rely on Fernie’s support – from class sponsorships and work uniforms to toiletries and food, there’s a wide selection of gifts that will mean so much to a young person in the need.

“These young people often just need a boost, that important second chance. Their success in getting out of the justice system and reaching adulthood is a great benefit for the future of the whole community,” says Perdue. “Your help with a Gift Catalog donation can help change the life of an at-risk youth.”

Help at-risk youth this holiday season by purchasing a gift from the catalog at

*name has been changed for confidentiality reasons

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