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Ontario Construction News staff writer
Bruce Sonnenberg joined executives sleeping outside across the city on Nov. 18, to raise money so that the youth at Covenant House Toronto “can ignite their potential.”
The Sleep Out was cool with a windchill of minus 5 C.
“As I laid there on my piece of cardboard, I realized there is no such thing as peace and quiet on the streets of Toronto,” Sonnenberg wrote on his LinkedIn page following the event.
“The streetcar rumbled by at regular intervals, sirens and loud voices occasionally punctuated the ever-present ambient sounds of the night. I can’t even imagine what our homeless youth experience sleeping on the streets alone, without friends or a family to support them.”
Sonnenberg, senior vice-president and district manager at PCL Constructors Canada Inc., raised over $64,000 for Covenant House.
Now in its 10th year, Sleep Out: Executive Edition helps youth who are homeless, trafficked, or at-risk.
In 2020 more than $1.2 million was raised and this year’s hybrid event allowed sleepers to participate at a Covenant House designated sleep site at TD Centre donated by Cadillac Fairview, in their own backyards, living room or on their balcony. Wherever you choose to spend the night, sleepers will take part in a powerful and immersive experience.
“Today, I will sleep out to help raise awareness and give youth access to essential services and the tools they need to change their lives. With my cardboard and sleeping bag in hand, I will experience what our homeless youth go through every night. While I can return to the comfort of my bed tomorrow, they do not,” Sonnenberg said on Twitter.
Youth homelessness in Canada has reached crisis proportions. About 6,000 young people are experiencing homelessness in our country on any given night.
And in the case of sex trafficking, it is a growing crime in Canada that is often under-reported, under-estimated and largely misunderstood. It can happen to any young person, regardless of age, culture, income, orientation, gender or neighbourhood; however, homeless youth are among the most vulnerable.
Over 30 per cent of female youth who stay at Covenant House have been involved in some form of the sex industry, including sex for food.
Covenant House supports youth aged 16 to 24: a critical time for intervention, and a chance to change a young person’s life. Covenant House provides youth the essential services and tools they need to change their lives. Each day, as many as 300 young people count on Covenant House.