PCL executive Bruce Sonnenberg Raises $500K over a decade in support of Covenant House Toronto
TORONTO, ON (Nov 20, 2023) – PCL Construction congratulates Bruce Sonnenberg, regional vice president for Central Canada, on reaching a major philanthropic goal. Each year for the last decade, Bruce has joined business and community leaders in cities across North America, giving up the comforts of home to sleep on the streets in solidarity with homeless youth in support of Covenant House Toronto’s Sleep Out, Executive Edition.
Successfully raising $500,000 over those 10 years, Bruce is hanging up his sleeping bag, with 2023 being his last Executive Sleep Out. And he couldn’t have done it without the ongoing support of family, friends and colleagues in the construction industry for making the milestone possible.
“It has been a tremendous and humbling opportunity over the past 10 years to partake in this experience. It truly makes one pause and reflect on how much we take for granted, and how extremely grateful I am to have a roof over my head, and the love and support of my family and friends,” reflects Sonnenberg. “While I slept out each year, it was a minor inconvenience compared to the dedicated support of friends, family and colleagues in the construction industry who rallied to help raise the funds over the years. We take pride in supporting the communities in which we live and build, and without the support of industry, none of this would have been possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has sponsored me for this humbling event. Your generosity has been overwhelming and will go a long way to ensuring these kids will never have to sleep on the street again.
”In his final year of supporting the Toronto Sleep Out, Bruce was one of the top fundraisers representing $78,383, helping Covenant House surpass their goal, raising $1,264,072. All of the money raised will go towards supporting Toronto’s homeless youth.
“On behalf of all of us at Covenant House and the youth we serve, we’d like to extend a big thank you to Bruce for his continued leadership and significant fundraising efforts over the last ten years supporting those in need in our community,” said Mark Aston, Executive Director, Covenant House Toronto. “Thank you for your dedication, commitment and support towards making a difference in the lives of future generations.”
Every year, Bruce has written about his personal experience sleeping on the street as a way to share his sincerest gratitude to those who supported his journey over all these years. When the event was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and went virtual, he still chose to sleep outside in his backyard, to honor the intent and in solidarity with the enormous support he was so grateful to receive.
“My evening began by having supper at a table with a young man. The deep sadness in his eyes pierced my heart. Occasionally, I saw a glimmer of hope – a hope that will need to be nurtured and grown so that he can move on to have a productive life,” wrote Bruce back in 2016.
In 2017, he shared this memory, “We each received a sleeping bag and cardboard on which to sleep. Coincidentally, we took up residence for the night close to Gerrard and Church Street, directly across from the Ryerson Centre for Urban Innovation, a project [that was] under construction by PCL. I have spent some late nights working at construction sites in my day, but the stark contrast in looking up at a PCL site from the ground in the middle of the night was a defining moment for me.”
The evening of November 16, 2023 marked Bruce’s last Sleep Out. For his final year, Bruce wrote:
Through the years it has become apparent to me that many homeless youth have a story that starts in an abusive environment, and results in living on the streets. Although all of these young people have potential, they have never been given the opportunity to realize it. Covenant House has the programs to unlock their potential.
The keynote speaker, Joe Roberts, shared a touching success story that impacted us all. His story also started in an abusive home in small town Ontario. After experimenting with drugs as a child to ease the pain, he ran away in 1986 and ended up in Vancouver. There he met an old man at a park bench who said, “There is more to you than you see.” He sought help from a youth homeless shelter similar to Covenant House, that eventually reconnected him with his mother. He returned to college, graduated with a 3.96 GPA and then went from skid row to CEO in 12 years - even making the cover of Canadian Business Magazine.
“Volunteering for the Covenant House Sleep Out year after year showcases the type of leadership qualities that we celebrate here at PCL,” shares Chris Gower, Deputy CEO at PCL Construction. “Congratulations Bruce, for your commitment to community and helping so many vulnerable youths find the support systems they need to escape poverty and live successful lives.”
Twenty per cent of Canada’s homeless population consists of young people between the ages of 13 to 24, and up to 6,000 young people experience homelessness every night. For context, Bruce’s $500k donation fed 1,000 youth for a whole month or supported 10,000 youth with food and shelter for a day.
You can learn more about the Covenant House Executive Sleep Out here.
About Covenant House Toronto
Covenant House helps youth ignite their potential and reclaim their lives. As Canada’s largest agency serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk, we offer the widest range of services to hundreds of young people every day.
More than a place to stay, we provide life-changing care with unconditional love and respect. We meet youth’s immediate needs and then we work together to achieve their future goals. We offer 24/7 crisis shelter transitional housing options on-site and, in the community, health and well-being support, training and skill development, and ongoing care once youth move into the community.
For over 40 years, Covenant House has been dedicated to its mission of serving youth on the street and to protect and safeguard all youth with absolute respect and unconditional love. Since 1982, Covenant House has supported more than 100,000 young people.
About Bruce Sonnenberg
Bruce Sonnenberg is regional vice president, Central Canada PCL Constructors Canada Inc., responsible for operations in Manitoba, Northern Ontario, Ottawa, Montreal and Atlantic Canada. With more than three decades of PCL experience, Bruce has spent more than 25 years with PCL in Toronto. He has been part of PCL’s leadership teams in Calgary and Toronto. He holds a BSc degree in civil engineering from the University of Alberta and is a registered professional engineer.
About PCL Construction
PCL is a group of independent construction companies that operates throughout Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and Australia. As one of the largest contracting organizations in North America, PCL completes more than $9 billion CAD in work annually, building projects that shape communities. The company’s 100% employee ownership model fuels a culture of commitment for clients in the buildings, civil infrastructure, heavy industrial and solar markets. With a strategic presence in more than 30 major centers, PCL’s leadership teams consistently drive innovation and set new benchmarks for excellence, bringing unparalleled skill to every project. Watch us build at PCL.com.