“A person’s world is only as big as their heart.”— Tanya A. Moore

This week residents, staff, volunteers and supporters of Eva’s gathered together to celebrate amazing achievements and commitment. Annually, Eva’s Young at Heart Awards recognizes all the hard work, dedication, and compassion we’re surrounded by.

Young people who are residents and program participants at Eva’s were recognized for their resiliency and incredible motivation to build bright futures. Donors and volunteers were recognized for their instrumental support in providing homeless youth with support and new opportunities. Community groups and organizations were recognized for making significant contributions of time and resources.

We were also very excited to present young people with bursaries to support them with education, employment, and personal development in their journies to greater stability.

Three of Eva's staff in front of a screen with a picture of Eva on it.
A group of people mingling in a room.
What nominators had to say about young people at Eva’s
  • “Imraan is an extremely compassionate person and who cherished his independence and interacts in meaningful ways in the Eva’s Phoenix Community. He embodies the idea that it’s okay to cope differently. “
  • “Whatever Lucie sets her mind to accomplish, she will do with all of her heart and soul. Lucie’s character, determination, inner spirit and resolve make her a force to be reckoned with. She has accomplished so much!”
  • “Kristi is a very determined young person who came to Canada as a refugee who faced discrimination for her gender identity. She has had many setbacks, but still pushed to reach her goals.”
  • “Hailee engages peers with confidence during harm reduction drop-ins, which involved playing gamed and teaching basic harm reduction info. It requires you to improvise and talk to folks you don’t know, so it’s not easy.”
What nominators had to say about people who have contributed to building brighter futures for youth at Eva’s
  • “Myles is the definition of paying it forward. A former Eva’s Place resident, Myles is now a successful private chef and he’s on a mission to train, educate and engage our youth.  His program is always popular and the youth really connect with him, seeing him as a mentor and an inspiration that they can achieve their own dreams.”
  • “Oliva’s regular large donation of sandwiches, wraps, breakfast danishes, muffins, soup, yogurt and fruit cups help us feed young people as they navigate challenging complex situations. Food is more than nourishment; it means many things to many people. Oliva’s donations let young people know that members of the larger community also care.”
95th Anniversary of Eva Smith’s Birthday

This is a special year for Young at Heart because we’re also celebrating the 95th Anniversary of Eva Smith’s Birthday. We were honoured to friends and family of the Smith family join the celebration of the life and achievements of Eva.

Friends and family of Eva Smith who joined us for the celebration.
Do you know her story? It’s one we love to tell.

Eva immigrated from Jamaica to Canada in 1956. She came on a domestic contract like many women of colour did at the time, as their credentials were often not recognized.

Eva faced long hours of work and had family responsibilities to attend to. But she prioritized service to others and soon became a pillar of Toronto’s community.

Many people loved Eva and knew she was concerned about youth education. She recognized the barriers many Black youth faced in particular and was driven to spark change. She noticed young people dropping out of high school because they had nowhere to live.

Do you know what decision-makers said when she told them a youth shelter was needed in North York? “There’s no homeless youth here.” Even in the face of denials, she rallied the community and her trailblazing effort led to the opening of Eva’s Place as North York’s first youth shelter.

Sadly, Eva passed away in 1993, one year before Eva’s Place officially opened. But her spirit lives on. Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth wouldn’t have begun without her, and homeless youth wouldn’t have the chance to thrive without your support. We’re incredibly grateful.