The New Jeffrey Burton Youth Shelter Opens at The Lighthouse Orillia – Need Has Never Been Greater 

The Lighthouse Youth Wing, named in memory of Jeffrey Burton, has eight beds, a common room and an office, with a games area and a desk for homework in addition to a small kitchen. It is separate from the adult shelter. Supplied Photo

In a compassionate response to the escalating crisis in homeless youth, the James A. Burton & Family Foundation (JABFF) has unveiled the Jeffrey Burton Youth Wing, featuring eight dedicated beds for youth aged 16-24, at the Lighthouse Orillia homeless shelter.

This initiative honours the memory of Jeffrey Burton, who passed away 12 years ago by an accidental overdose at 31 after courageously battling substance use disorder and living sober for a number of years.

 

Through their Foundation, his father, Jim Burton, and Jeffrey’s six siblings donated $1 million to establish a new Youth Wing to augment the adult program within the Lighthouse Community Services. This gesture underscores the JABFF’s commitment to addressing mental health and addiction issues, which are deeply personal to the Burton family.

“The establishment of these beds is a tribute to Jeffrey’s choice of sobriety in his life, cut short by an accidental slip,” said Jim Burton, Chair of the JABFF. “It signifies our unwavering commitment to helping provide sanctuary and support to those in dire need. In doing so, we remember Jeffrey’s legacy and work towards the prevention of such tragic loss of young lives in the future.”

 

The establishment of the Jeffrey Burton Youth Wing addresses a critical need within the Orillia community. Recent statistics indicate a significant rise in youth homelessness, with young people aged 16-24 being one of the most vulnerable groups. Without safe and stable housing, young homeless individuals face ongoing physical and mental health issues and diminished access to education and employment opportunities.

 

Jeffrey’s story is a stark reminder of the harsh realities that can happen to anyone in a crisis, especially vulnerable youth who often have few resources to help them understand and manage substance abuse and its life-altering consequences.

The new Jeffrey Burton Youth Wing aims to provide a safe haven that empowers young individuals with the resources and support needed to overcome the challenges of homelessness and move towards a more stable and hopeful future.

The significance of the youth shelter beds goes beyond a comfortable bed to sleep in. Lighthouse Orillia is committed to offering a comprehensive support system, including access to counselling, health care, educational programs, and job training — all of which help young people reintegrate safely into the community and lead fulfilling lives.

“We believe that every young person deserves a second chance at life,” emphasized Mr. Burton. “These beds are just the start. The JABFF hopes to see services expand to meet the unprecedented need and ensure that no young person has to face the darkness of homelessness alone.”

News Release reposted from Orillia Matters

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