Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
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Tim Tierney



 

 

 

   

(Posted 7:30 a.m., Sept. 26)
Joe Roberts brings 'Push for Change' message to Orléans

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Joe Roberts walks past the Paroisse St-Joseph church early Monday morning on the Orléans leg of his 'Push for Change' trek across Canada. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Just after 6 a.m. Monday morning, Joe Roberts set out from the Shenkman Arts Centre with his slightly modified shopping cart on the Ottawa leg of his "Push for Change" trek across Canada.

Joining him were a half dozen members of the Kiwanis Club of Orléans which hosted a sleepout at the sKreamers Haunted Village on the Proulx Farm in Cumberland on Saturday night attended by about 150 youth, half of whom spent the night sleeping on a cement floor in an unheated barn.

Roberts' message is a simple one -- more needs to be done to prevent youth homelessness in Canada and to provide resources and support to those who believe they have no way back. As for the shopping cart, it's symbolic of his own period of homelessness and the fact that most people association homelessness with a homeless person pushing a shopping cart containing all their belongings..

Roberts set out on his cross-Canada journey 149 days and almost 3,000 km ago. He's passed through hundreds of towns and cities spreading his message and raising hundeeds of thousands of dollars. His goal is to raise 50 cents for every man, woman and child in Canada, or about $17 million. Now that he's in Ontario, he's hoping to kick start the fundraising portion of the campaign starting in Ottawa.

The sKreaners sleepout raised more than $1,000, but that was secondary to the chance Roberts had to deliver his message to the youth who attended the event.

"Getting an opportunity at any time to speak to a group of young people is really at the core of what we're trying to do to push for change and engage and inspire and empower young people to understand what youth homelessness is and understand what kind of difference they can make in their community when they actual take action," said Roberts.

"Walking across Canada that's great, but its been done. Where we're going to make a difference is when we get to come into a community and share our message and motivate young people."

Judging by the reaction on social media to Roberts visit to sKreamers, his message resonated with many in the crowd Saturday evening.

"When I went on social media and read about how it opened their eyes and they'll never look at homelessness the same again, that's a real win for us and really what keeps us going throigh the rain and snow and hot sun," Roberts said before setting out down St-Joseph Blvd.

Roberts journey actually began nearly 30 years ago when, at the age of 15, he left home and dropped out of school after quarreling with his stepfather and soon thereafter developed a dependency on drugs and alcohol.

Fortunately through a combination of fate and desperation, Roberts entered a drug treatment program and got cleaned up. He would go on to earn his high school diploma and entered Loyalist College where he studied business marketing and sales.

He graduated in 1995 and nine years later he received the Ontario Premier's Award for Business Excellence after starting a highly successful high tech company specializing in Internet solutions.

Roberts message is simple, if he can overcome homelessness and addiction others can too with the proper support and guidance. The key to ending youth homelessness, says Roberts, is prevention, combined with emergency services and sustainable housing.

For more information about the "Push for Change" cross-Canada trek and fundraising campaign visit www.thepushforchange.com.

Joe Roberts sets out from the Shenkman Arts Centre early Monday morning on the Orléans leg of his Push for Change trek across Canada. He is scheduled to arrive on Parliament Hill at 1 p.m. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

   

 


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