For folks looking for a source of Christmas cheer this year, purchasing a fresh, locally sourced Aunt Leah’s tree is the perfect way to channel the giving spirit. Each purchase helps support vulnerable foster youth, young moms, and their children during this uncertain time.
Aunt Leah’s tree sales are a crucial source of revenue for the housing and programs Aunt Leah’s provides to vulnerable foster youth and moms and babies. This year, the need is more urgent than ever. It is estimated that 50% of BC foster youth will experience homelessness and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, young single moms have experienced even greater levels of housing and food insecurity. Aunt Leah’s has been a lifeline for these young people, providing housing, food hampers, living essentials and a supportive and compassionate adult to help them navigate these challenging times.
Dianna became part of the Aunt Leahs’ family when she came to Aunt Leah’s House as a single teen mother with her six-month-old baby. This decision served as a turning point for Dianna. With Aunt Leah’s support, Dianna was able to keep her baby. In addition to providing housing and financial support, Aunt Leah’s staff helped Dianna learn valuable parenting and life skills. They also encouraged her to return to school and upgrade her high school diploma.
It can be challenging enough for any teen to keep up with their high school course work, never mind juggling childcare, attending young parent programs, and learning the necessary life skill to take care of herself and her young son. Still, Dianna was determined, and, with Aunt Leah’s help, she was able to graduate and move into independent housing.
Fast forward, Dianna and her son Adrian are flourishing. Adrian currently attends a francophone school, participates in soccer, and is growing to become a thoughtful person who is her pride and joy. “He reminds me that life is great,” says Dianna.
While Dianna is independent and thriving, she remains connected to Aunt Leah’s. “It’s really supportive, and the environment is really welcoming and warm. I continue to come because it’s a family.”
She attends Aunt Leah’s Tuesday’s Cooking Club and is primed to become a mentor and role model, showing other young people what their future can be. Dianna is planning to become an education assistant, and her ultimate dream is to become a social worker for children and families, “I want to help young moms because I’ve been there,” she says.
Charity Intelligence has rated Aunt Leah’s Place as one of the highest-rated charities in 2021 based on social impact. According to Sarah Stewart, Aunt Leah’s Executive Director, “Aunt Leah’s programs are life changing and have significant social impact in two ways. First, they break the cycle of foster care by supporting young mothers and preventing their babies from going into foster care. And second, they help young people who ‘age-out’ of the foster system successfully transition to independent adulthood by supporting them with education, housing and finding jobs.”
Aunt Leah’s started selling Christmas trees in the 1990s when government funding was cut. The Christmas tree sales have increased every year, and the tree Lots have become Aunt Leah’s most successful fundraiser, raising over $640,000 with 100% of the profits from tree sales going to support its programs. For many Metro Vancouver families, buying an Aunt Leah’s Christmas tree is a cherished part of their Christmas tradition.
To learn more, visit www.auntleahs.org/trees.