Supporting Toronto’s LGBT youth

Support SOY at its annual bowl-a-thon fundraiser

Xtra Spark profiles current activism in our communities. This article stems from a partnership between Xtra Spark and Supporting Our Youth, in which we are supporting their annual Bowlathon Fundraiser with targeted media coverage that gives our readership pathways to take action.

Supporting Our Youth is an organization based in Toronto that provides a number of vital programs and services to queer youth in the city. A drop-in group for homeless and street-involved young adults, social spaces for marginalized youth and one-on-one mentoring are just some of the initiatives SOY has on offer. Its programs are crucial to creating a safe, positive community space for kids that often have nowhere else to turn.

To fund these initiatives, SOY relies on fundraising to supplement the money it receives from the government. On Saturday, Oct 24, 2015, SOY is hosting its annual Bowlathon fundraiser.

Lois Fine, a contributor to the Bowlathon for over 10 years, is the top fundraiser for SOY, pulling together thousands of dollars in donations yearly.

Fine is the director of finance and IT at the YWCA in Toronto, and she uses her network of contacts to bring in more donations.

The organization strikes a personal note for her. “When I was coming of age in Montreal, it was very isolating,” Fine says, “When I know about young people who still don’t feel safe coming out, not feeling supported, I totally relate to that from my own experience.”

SOY provides a space for younger queer Canadians connect with mentors. Its mentoring program is an important part of why Fine supports the organization. For her, that relationship is a two-way street. “I think we all have to learn from the generations before us and give thanks, and also learn from the generations after us and stay open. I believe in that.”

SOY sees 250 youth visit its programs every week, many of whom are homeless or refugees. SOY is an organization that truly makes a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable among us. For Fine, the decision to help SOY is an easy one. “There’s queer kids who are feeling isolated and need support, and this program supports them,” Fine says.

“Great — sign me up!”

Support Lois Fine and help SOY continue to provide its services to Toronto’s youth at SOY’s donation page.