Homeward Bound initiative jump starts an incredible journey

The next three years will be a blessing for 15 impoverished mothers from Halton region. Home Suite Hope, in partnership with Sheridan College, the Oakville Community Foundation, and Halton Region, will be sending five mothers a year to Sheridan, free of charge.

At a press conference Dr. Zabudsky, Sheridan College President, detailed how the four organizations came together.

“This just couldn’t be done with one organization. This is a true community effort, which is the best part of this initiative. Sometimes students aren’t successful because of other challenges they face. This will allow them to focus on their academic success.”

By September 2015 five mothers, selected through an application process by Home Suite Hope, will be enrolled in two-year Sheridan programs that will provide them with marketable skills for the future.

The Homeward Bound project, which takes it’s name from a live action Disney movie, manages to cover all costs of an education and other ancillary fees. Funding has been guaranteed for the first round of mothers, including both years of the program. Funding for the first year of round two has been secured, but continuing years have yet to be guaranteed.

The assistance from Halton Region may prove to be the most beneficial.

One recipient told the Oakville Beaver that tuition fees, books, transportation and daycare costs would have prevented her from going to college. There is no limit on day-care funding, which contributes to keeping the Homeward Bound project as open as possible.

The students will also have access to internships, which will also help offset the costs of studying. Paid internships are not guaranteed under the program, but it has been labelled as a priority. “We like to see all of our students compensated,” said Dr. Zabudsky.

Sheridan is also providing academic counselling. Home Suite Hope will assist with life after graduation, helping the new grads find jobs that will use their skills and be rewarding.

The Homeward Bound program is a continuation of the successful Woodgreen Community Services initiative of the same name. It is based in Toronto and was established in 2004.

Since 2004 it has:

  • involved 176 women and 216 children
  • provided careers as law clerks, technology service analysts, and data management officers
  • placed graduates at major banks such as TD, Scotiabank, and RBC

It has also won such awards as:

  • Ontario Non-Profit Housing Excellence Award
  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Housing Award
  • International Computer Driving License Impact Lives Award

Woodgreen Community Services estimates that for every dollar spent on the Homeward Bound program, four dollars have been saved in social assistance.

Below is a video of a Homeward Bound graduate expressing what it meant to be part of the Homeward Bound program:

The benefits of the Homeward Bound program will extend far beyond the mothers enrolled in the program.

“Based on their own skills, they’ll have the ability to go and do whatever they want,” said Gary Carr, Halton Regional Chair. “It’s not only beneficial for them, but their children will also understand the importance of education. I truly believe they will become leaders and role models.”

“Every year, I shake a lot of hands as part of the graduation ceremony — 8,000 last year,” Dr. Zabudsky said. “These five will be very special.”

Photo courtesy of the Oakville Community Foundation.

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