Egadz Street Outreach gets major funding boost from province, Home Depot Foundation

Egadz Street Outreach got a big boost Tuesday, as the Home Depot Canada Foundation and the Government of Saskatchewan pledged $125,000 in operational funding.

$125K in operational funding from province announced, along with $25K grant for program for at-risk youth

Home Depot members pose with Egadz executive director Don Miekle and two youth while presenting a cheque for $25,000 for the organization on Tuesday. (Kay-Lynne Collier )

Egadz Street Outreach got a major boost Tuesday, with the announcement of $150,000 in funding that the Saskatoon non-profit hopes will ensure it can help youth into the future.

Egadz will receive $125,000 in operational funding this year from the government of Saskatchewan, the province announced Tuesday.

It was also announced Tuesday that Egadz's Operation Runaway program will receive one of seven $25,000 grants from the Home Depot Canada Foundation's Orange Door Award Program, which provides grants for organizations working with homeless and at-risk  youth.

"It is a huge boost for our organization in the work we are trying to do for young people." said Don Meikle, executive director of Egadz Street Outreach.

"It will help us to be able to do more work with them one-on-one."

Program nearly shut down

Egadz is a non-profit organization that was set up to help children, youth and their families make healthy, positive choices to improve their quality of life. The organization has been working with at-risk youth in Saskatoon since 1990.

The organization's Operation Runaway program, which reaches out to repeat runaways on the streets of Saskatoon and currently involves more than 50 young people, was nearly closed down last year due to lack of funding.

The program began after Saskatoon police noticed many people reported missing were habitual youth runaways, meaning they had been reported missing more than two or three times to the police.

A lot of these kids just felt like they weren't being heard. This program allows that.- Don Meikle, Egadz executive director

Meikle worked with Saskatoon police to determine what solutions they could come up with together.

Meikle proposed just asking the youth themselves why they were running away and what they were running from.

"A lot of these kids just felt like they weren't being heard. This program allows that," said Meikle.

"Now we bring together the city police, Egadz, mental health addictions service and social services, all at the table with the young people, listening to what they need and now trying to help them."

Operation Runaway provides supports to youth in Saskatoon who are homeless or at-risk. (Kay-Lynne Collier )

Meikle says he want the youth in the program to find a sense of security, either with each other or in the supports offered through the program. He says the funding announced Tuesday will let Egadz keep doing the work they have been doing in the past.

In addition to its partnerships with the province and Saskatoon Police Service, Egadz has also partnered with Prairie Mobility Communications. The company donates recycled cellphones to the program, to ensure at-risk youth are able to call for help or be located by those who run the program.

Social Services Minister Paul Merriman praised the organization's work in a news release announcing the funding Tuesday.

"Egadz Street Outreach is one of the most innovative community-based organizations in all of Canada, and we are so proud of the work we do with them to support vulnerable youth here in Saskatoon," Merriman said in the release.