On May 1, 2016, Joe Roberts, former homeless youth, began pushing a shopping cart across Canada to raise awareness and dollars to end youth homelessness. It seemed a strange journey for someone to take on: a 9,000 km walk across the country that will take about a year and a half to complete. But Joe knows, from the inside, what homelessness among young people really entails, and how vital it is that we, as a nation, come to understand that too, and take steps to end it.

Pushing a shopping cart is a highly symbolic gesture: how many times have you seen a homeless person pushing all their worldly goods, wrapped in plastic bags and hanging off an old and creaking shopping cart? In our own communities, homelessness can be invisible, but it is very real all the same. Young people hanging around coffee shops through the night, with nowhere else to go. Or sleeping on a couch in some friend’s house, not knowing where they’ll be the next night.

These are real people who live in our neighbourhoods, and Joe Roberts’ journey is meant to wake us up to that fact. Local resident Craig McCormick has come across the reality of youth homelessness in his work as an OPP officer; and, when he saw Joe’s video on YouTube, it seemed to reach him in a very deep way. He decided that he would try and have Joe visit North Grenville on his way through here in October.

Funds raised by Joe are split evenly between national and local causes working to end homelessness among young people. Joe is scheduled to speak in over 300 schools across the country, and take part in over 200 community events. Craig asked himself: “Why not here, too?” He is looking for individuals and businesses to step forward and get involved in a committee to arrange the visit on October 2 next. He has also begun to adapt a local shopping cart to be the symbol of our local drive to end youth homelessness, and will be visiting various places over the coming months to raise awareness of the issue, and to publicise Joe’s visit here.

Joe Roberts has obtained the support of the OPP, the United Way, Rotary, as well as many youth service agencies and unions. Now Craig is looking for your support too. You can help organise the visit in October, or take your turn pushing the shopping cart through North Grenville, or just add your donation to the cause. Whatever you do, it will bring attention to a problem we have in our community, and add real, practical help to solving it.

Joe Roberts’ short video is on our Facebook page and website, at www.ngtimes.ca. To get involved in Craig’s campaign, contact him at [email protected]

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