Youth Outreach Workers

The greatest gift of all costs nothing and can’t be seen.

This is what youth outreach worker Russ Sanche has come to realize through his work in communities reaching from Aylsford to Wolfville, N.S.

Youth outreach worker Russ Sanche in his car

Youth outreach worker Russ Sanche covers  an area from Aylesford to Wolfville and is often on the move or on his phone. (Pelham Photo)

“The greatest gift we can give is our time,” says Russ Sanche, a youth outreach worker based in Kentville, N.S.   “It’s just a matter of time, being in their corner and being able to speak up for them.”

He’s bundled up against the cold as we speak on a street near The Portal youth drop in centre in Kentville.  You’re just as likely to see him on his phone, in a coffee shop, or in his car, always reaching out to connect with young people who need support.

A young man waves from a distance, then runs across the street to chat briefly with Russ. Joshua White is pleased to hear about a supper being organized that evening at The Portal and promises to be there.

Russ Sanche and Joshua White talk to each other in front of a yellow fence

Youth outreach worker Russ Sanche chats with Joshua White in Kentville, reminding him of an upcoming dinner at The Portal youth drop in centre. (Pelham Photo)

“Russ is a really good base for activities. Say someone was struggling, he’ll say, ‘okay, let’s go do something, or let’s figure out what’s going on, or let’s talk about it – how do you feel, or what are your plans?  For me it helps a lot. We walk together,” says White.

More than 60 local youth connected with supports for relational, housing, income, educational, mental health, addictions or corrections concerns during 2012-13, the outreach program’s first year.

“The youth we deal with are facing multiple challenges including isolation,” says Sanche. “The intent is to deal with trauma and pain, to create a sense of belonging and to encourage responsibility – together this is a recipe for change. “

The program is funded by the Department of Community Services.  Youth  outreach workers are based in communities across Nova Scotia. Community-based organizations assist in delivering the program, including: Family Services of Eastern Nova Scotia, in Sydney and Port Hawkesbury; the Canadian Mental Health Association in Truro; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County, in New Glasgow; Phoenix Youth Programs, in Halifax; the Native Council of Nova Scotia, in Dartmouth; the Valley Refuge Association, in Kentville; and Split Rock, in Yarmouth.

Province-wide, there are 821 youth who have been assisted in the first year of the youth outreach worker program.

Russ Sanche speaking about youth outreach in front of a house with yellow siding

The greatest gift of all is time, according to youth outreach worker Russ Sanche, in Kentville. (Pelham Photo)

“We give kids an anchor to rebuild their life and plug them into services that are available. Our work injects flexibility into the system of supports,” says Sanche. “We work to set up the kinds of supports that are needed in each individual circumstance, whatever is needed.”