How It All Began
In late 1988, Kate Millar noticed that there were a lot of young people living on the streets of downtown Kitchener. With the help of others in the community, Kate began working with youth who were experiencing homelessness, or who were at-risk of becoming homeless. In 1989, a friend donated office space to Kate, and ROOF was officially born.
In 1990, ROOF moved into a facility at Duke and College Streets. While at this location, ROOF began to define a set of values and principles that were to become the foundation of the present day agency. In 1991, ROOF moved into 43 Cedar St. N., in Kitchener. During this time, ROOF increased services to seven days per week, added a connective outreach program, added a food hamper program, created a more comprehensive volunteer training program, and added trained counsellors to its team. On March 1, 1996, ROOF began its partnership in the Betty Thompson Youth Centre, which increased its capacity to provide service to high risk youth.
In 1999, through the generous support of a private donor, ROOF purchased a new facility at 242 Queen Street South, in Kitchener. This facility allowed us the space to offer extended hours of service and more diverse group activities. In addition, an on site partnership with Public Health Nurses began.
On December 28, 2005, the building at 242 Queen Street South, suffered a devastating fire. The destruction resulted in the closure of this location. Fortunately, through our continued partnership with the Betty Thompson Youth Centre, ROOF was able to open for limited services within a few days. Working closely with the City of Kitchener, the Board was able to quickly find what was thought to be a more suitable location. On January 17, 2006, ROOF officially opened its temporary quarters at the KOR Gallery, located at 79 Joseph Street. During this time, various options for ROOF’s 242 Queen Street location were explored.
Unfortunately, the KOR Gallery proved to be more temporary than anyone anticipated. Coal Tar contamination made it necessary for ROOF to move yet again. As of April 2006, ROOF staff were temporarily housed in the Betty Thompson Youth Centre and drop-in was run out of Trinity United Church. The arrival of a new Executive Director in June 2006 offered a renewed sense of energy and motivation to move forward. In January 2008, we returned to a brand new building back at 242 Queen Street South. Thanks to the generosity of our community, in just over one year, we were back, bigger and better.
During the first years of existence, ROOF provided services to approximately 80 – 100 consumers. Our numbers continued to increase, and in 2013, we served 825 distinct youth. The amount of youth requiring our services has grown, not only in numbers, but also in needs. The issues they face have become much more complex, with many facing overlapping issues. In order to meet these needs, ROOF is committed to supporting youth with the intent of breaking the cycle of homelessness. This is done through the implementation of programs such as the ROOF Lunchbox and Street Designs, which help youth develop vocational skills, making them more employable and confident. At the same time, ROOF is committed to continuing our regular services such as Outreach and Drop-In.
In the 20+ years that ROOF has provided service to our community’s homeless youth, we have seen many youth reintegrate into the mainstream of society. Thousands of youth facing hardships have benefited from the immediate services and have developed the personal confidence, resources, and skills that are necessary to rise above adversity. ROOF remains committed to the ideal that “one youth on the street is one too many”.
R.O.O.F. Changes name to oneROOF Youth Services
In December of 2014 – R.O.O.F. announced its new name oneROOF Youth Services. The name and logo have changed but the non-profit’s commitment to its mandate – serving youth who are homeless or at-risk in Waterloo Region – remains the same.
The new name and logo reflect a single powerful idea: that youth who are homeless should never be concerned about where to find help. Getting in touch with oneROOF is an important first step. oneROOF is here to walk with them and help them to understand that their past does not define their future; we strive to support them as they overcome barriers that may hinder their new journey out of the cycle of homelessness.
“oneROOF is about more than finding housing for youth experiencing homelessness. Our new name and logo reflect what we do, every day. We provide multiple services to help youth-at-risk; we see them as unique individuals’ we see them as innately valuable’ we see THEM, not their label or their “problem”.
ROOF remains committed to the ideal that “one youth on the street is one too many”.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS