On a cold, Toronto night in November, PCL Toronto’s vice
president and district manager Bruce Sonnenberg gave up the comforts of home to
sleep on the streets of Toronto, with nothing more than a sleeping bag and a
piece of cardboard.
Basic needs like food, a warm bed, and safe shelter
are true luxuries for the estimated 10,000 homeless
youth on Toronto’s streets.
Sonnenberg surpassed his own $35,000
goal thanks to the generous support of
construction industry partners, family,
In his second year of sleeping on the street to raise funds
for Covenant House Toronto, Sonnenberg joined other executives, including
building and real-estate leaders, who are connected by a common goal: to help
tackle youth homelessness in Toronto.
The bare necessities
“For the estimated 10,000 homeless youth on Toronto’s
streets each year, basic needs like food, a warm bed, and safe shelter are true
luxuries,” Bruce said. “Instead of experiencing the joys of childhood that we
may take for granted in our own families, these kids face life-or-death
situations every day.”
The evening of November 19 saw over 1,000 business leaders
across 16 cities sleep out to raise much-needed funds for homeless youth across
North America. Collectively, the group in Toronto exceeded their $1 million
fundraising goal, with Sonnenberg surpassing his own $35,000 goal thanks to the
generous support of construction industry partners, family, and friends.
A community effort
“The experience of participating in Sleep Out is not about
pretending to be homeless. It’s about being thankful for the life I have been
able to lead with my family, and humbling myself to be vulnerable for just one
night,” Bruce said. “I am so grateful to everyone who supported this challenge,
which enabled me to take part in this eye-opening journey. Together, our
community still has a long way to go to provide these kids with the opportunity
to move from a life on the street to a life with a future.”
Covenant House was founded more than 40 years ago with the
mission to serve young people with absolute respect and unconditional love. It
is estimated that there are at least 10,000 homeless youth in Toronto during
any given year and as many as 2,000 on a given night. More than a place to
stay, Covenant House provides 24/7 crisis shelter and a longer-term residential
program along with comprehensive services, including education, counselling,
health care, employment assistance, job training, and aftercare.