When Janice Blenkhorn, an aboriginal liaison officer at Nova Institution for Women, saw a man pushing a shopping cart down the side of the highway on her way to work, she wanted to know more. After some quick research, she discovered that the man was Joe Roberts and that he was pushing the cart across Canada for his “Push for Change” campaign to end youth homelessness.
As it turned out, Joe was going to be passing through the town of Truro, where Janice works. Community members were invited to join him on a 1.6 kilometer walk and to make donations to his cause. Janice didn’t hesitate to participate.
“His fundraising goal was to collect just fifty cents from every Canadian. That’s it,” she explains. “It was short notice but I knew we at Nova could help.”
When Janice finished the walk, she discovered that Joe would have some free time on July 15th to visit the women’s institution and speak to inmates and staff about his journey through life and across Canada.
“He came in and gave a really beautiful testimony to his life,” says Janice.
Joe, also known as ‘Skid Row to CEO’, spent years of his youth as a homeless addict in Victoria, British Columbia. He was able to overcome adversity, however, to become the CEO of a successful company, author, and professional speaker. Janice says Joe’s presentation was motivating and inspiring, and that the women in the institution were very taken by his story.
“I was hoping they would feel inspired by knowing that they have a responsibility to themselves and that they can lift themselves up from here, that they can move forward in a good way and reach any goals and aspirations they set for themselves,” explains Janice.
The presentation wasn’t just for the benefit of the inmates, but for the staff at the institution as well she adds.
“Hearing Joe’s story was helpful because it gave us an appreciation for where some of the women we work with come from and what they may have faced in their lives. His presentation helped us not just professionally but personally as well.”
Altogether, the staff and women at Nova Institution donated $636.45 to Joe’s campaign. Other institutions interested in getting involved in the “Push for Change” campaign can organize a presentation with readily accessible CPIC forms, collect donations or walk to show support. For more information visit www.thepushforchange.com.