PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JEREMY VYN / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Get your taste buds ready for St. Leonard’s Community Services’ 17th Annual Soup Challenge.
Each year, restaurants and organizations across Brantford go head-to-head in a battle of the soups.
The cherry on top of this tasty contest is that proceeds from the event help support St. Leonard’s Community Services, which works to support homeless youth in Brantford.
Previous contestants have included Myra’s Bar and Grill, Zander’s Fire Grill and Brew Lounge and Goodness Me! Natural Food Market. Another past contestant is Why Not Youth Centre, which also works to help support at-risk youth in the city.
“Our focus is on empowering the youth of Brantford to break free from their limiting cycles and be equipped to achieve their potentials and step out of the places that they’ve come from,” said Robbie Kelly, a Youth Pastor and Youth Worker at Why Not Youth Centre.
Why Not Youth Centre acts as a 7-days-a-week drop-in centre for youth to access food and clothing, meet other youth, receive life-skills training and more.
According to Kelly, at-risk youth are the demographic “most in need of help and support but most unable to access anything.”
The Why Not Youth Centre focuses on changing the trajectory that these youth are on, pushing them towards success.
Recently, they opened what they hope will be the first of many housing programs, Charlie’s Place, to help youth who struggle with precarious housing.
“It makes an impact for these kids who oftentimes feel kind of invisible in the grand scheme of things,” said Kelly on the impact of community-wide events to support at-risk youth.
For youth to see the support they receive from their community allows them to feel a little less lonely.
“It is not just the city government doing this all by itself, it’s a community coming together,” said Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis.
“[St. Leonard’s Community Services] provides us some shelter options oriented toward homeless youth,” said Davis.
Because it is often difficult to target homeless youth in particular, the mayor’s focus is currently on expanding the total amount of affordable housing and shelter units available.
“Every good charity event has different components to it and does good things, more than just raising money,” said Mayor Davis.
Mayor Davis pointed out that in addition to raising much needed funds for St. Leonard’s Community Services, the Soup Challenge serves as a way to boost morale, foster a sense of community, and promote local restaurants who have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Students should keep an eye on their Facebook page for more details about St. Leonard’s Community Services’ Annual Soup Challenge and to learn more about what they do for homeless youth in Brantford.