More than 200 West Islanders showed their spirit of giving last week at a fundraising dinner held in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that raised $13,500 towards the construction of the AJOI project, Ricochet.
The objective of Ricochet is to offer social housing for West Island youth aged 18 to 35, a service that is a definite need for the West Island as no youth emergency shelter exists, causing AJOI’s (Action Jeunesse de l’Ouest-de-l’Île) outreach workers to move youth in need to other shelters in the city of Montreal or Vaudreuil.
“There is Youth Protection Services for youth aged 18 and under but there is an under-representation of services for youth in the 18 to 35 age group,” AJOI Executive Director Tania Charron told The Suburban in a recent interview.
The evening, attended by various dignitaries and municipal politicians such as Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Dimitrios Jim Beis, Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson, Ste Anne De Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa, Baie D’Urfe Mayor Maria Tutino and DDO Mayor Alex Bottausci, presented fun activities was part of the night’s theme, Sheltering Youth One Brick at a Time.
Ricochet will share its new locale, once it is constructed, with Résidence Bienvenue as that organization wants to go to phase two of its current location, expanding into a second edifice right beside the original on Gouin near Perron.
“Young people experiencing residential instability in the West Island use strategies such as couchsurfing, crowding and exchange of services making homelessness invisible to society,” said Charron. “We call this phenomenon ‘hidden homelessness.”
West Island resident and evening attendee Joseph Harrel knows all too well the need for a youth shelter in the area, telling a heartbreaking story to the assembled that illustrated life for some on the West Island.
“One of my son’s friends claimed to live nearby our home on the West Island,” Harrel said with tears rolling down his face. “He did live nearby, in a tent. He would come to our place and use the hose to shower. We did not know until he accidentally left a bar of soap behind one day.”
To learn more about AJOI and the Ricochet project, list them online at www.ricochetwestisland.com.