When Rachel Bae began hearing stories about Abbotsford’s homeless population on social media and the local news, she felt helpless, but compelled to do something.
What could she, a student at MEI Secondary, do to help solve a care and housing issue that had baffled her city for years?
After talking it over with her friends, Bae accepted that she didn’t have a miracle cure, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t be part of the solution.
Bae, together with friends and contacts from other secondary schools in Abbotsford, decided to found Youths Care, an organization dedicated to finding practical ways to support the homeless community.
Run entirely by students, Youths Care is currently trying to raise donations of practical items to be distributed during January and February. The organization has a loose partnership with the Abbotsford Food Bank, which will help mentor Youths Care members in their interactions with the homeless.
Youths Care currently includes just under 20 student members from MEI, W.J. Mouat, Yale, Abby Senior, and Abby Christian.
Some, like Hannah Los, discovered Bae’s ideas on the MEI 2015 grads’ Facebook page, while others connected with her through an inter-school leadership program.
Bae led an open rally to raise support on Nov. 18. at the Clearbrook Library, and has been contacting local businesses in pursuit of donations.
“I think the biggest element was choosing to take initiative,” said Bae. “The people that are on board are already part of many groups. They like to take initiative, and I found that we could easily plan something together. By doing this I thought that we could challenge ourselves.”
So far Youths Care has collected food and hygiene items from a drive organized at MEI, as well as from Trinity Global Evangelical Church and a local soccer team. As well, the Abbotsford Dental Group, Novo Dental Centre, and Montrose Dental Centre have all contributed toothbrushes and other supplies to the cause.
Youths Care is run by Rachel Bae, Hannah Los, Jennifer Markin, and Jane Kim, and can be contacted at YCOAbby@gmail.com.