United Way of Peel

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No child grows up with dreams of being homeless. Alone. Scared. Without food, shelter or money. Without even the comforting hug of a friend.

Yet, for the more than 550 youth who seek our help every year, homelessness seems better than life at home. The majority are escaping physical, sexual and emotional abuse at home.

Our Place Peel is a registered non-profit agency providing shelter, support and hope for homeless and disadvantaged youth aged 16 - 21 in the Region of Peel. Through our emergency shelter, resource room and community outreach services, we empower youth to take control of their lives, break harmful patterns, and make a healthy, new start.

Our Place Peel helps kids stay in their own community, close to school, jobs, and any family or peer support they have. As the only homeless shelter for youth in Peel, we strive to support as many youth as possible, yet last year we turned away more than 500 kids due to lack of space.

At Our Place Peel, we’re investing in the future of our community and country by providing homeless and disadvantaged youth the confidence and skills to obtain housing, overcome problems of their past and become financially independent.

Our Place Peel is a United Way Peel Region funded agency.


our history

In 1985, Our Place Peel opened a 6 bed residential program in Brampton for youth who were homeless, without adequate supervision, or living in an unacceptable home environment. This was in response to the community-identified need for services aimed at helping youth at risk of homelessness.

In 1989, Our Place Peel opened a 14 bed emergency shelter in Mississauga to respond to the growing number of homeless youth in Peel. The goal of the emergency shelter and residential program was to keep youth in their own community, close to family, friends, educational supports, and opportunities for employment.

In 2007, we launched the H.Y.P.E. Project (Helping Youth Prepare Effectively), aimed at helping youth obtain the essential skills they need to re-enter the education system, find employment, complete necessary volunteer hours, and successfully live independently. Participants in the program have access to all the services of Our Place Peel, plus connections to other community resources in Peel.

In 2001, we opened the doors to the community with our Resource Room, located in the Emergency Shelter in Mississauga. Here, youth aged 16 to 21 can attend free workshops on budgeting, resumé and cover letter writing, interview preparation, employment standards, finding accommodation, and landlord and tenant issues. We also provide youth with access to a computer, Internet, photocopier, fax, and telephone to assist with job or housing searches and provide information on a variety of other issues, community resources and agencies.

In 2006, we implemented our Outreach Initiative: Bridging the Gap between Shelter and Community. With the assistance of our Youth Support Coordinator, we have been able to educate many more homeless and at-risk youth in our community about the services and support we offer. Our Youth Support Coordinator has also been instrumental in raising awareness about youth homelessness in Peel and promoting relationships with youth-serving agencies in the community.

In spring 2010, Our Place Peel’s Board of Directors made the difficult decision to close the residential program in Brampton effective June 30, 2010. The Board wishes to thank all the staff and students who have dedicated themselves to providing a comfortable, caring and home like environment for so many youth over the past 25 years. Special thanks to all the donors, supporters and funders who have contributed to its operation. In particular, the support of the Ministry of Community Social Services – Ministry of Children & Youth Services, Central West Region, and its dedicated staff team is greatly appreciated.

Our Place Peel continues to be the only emergency shelter in Peel for youth aged 16 to 21 years. As Peel is one of the fastest growing areas in the province, it’s difficult to determine the number of youth who are in need of our services. Since opening the doors of our emergency youth shelter, over 4,000 youth have been provided with housing. Unfortunately, we frequently turn youth away because the beds are full.

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our voices

Anonymous Youth Age 18

My name is XXXXX, a graduated student of a Brampton high school. I will be attending college starting this fall. Meanwhile I stay at Our Place Peel. During my stay here I’ve learned more than you can imagine. Our Place Peel has given me many opportunities as a young adult in the community of Brampton. Since I have been at Our Place Peel I've been able to have a stable life which I wasn't given when I was younger. There are so many things that Our Place Peel provides for young adults who are headed down the wrong path. Yes, at first it was like that for me, because I thought, “Oh! These people don’t really care about me they’re just there to do their job”. But, I was wrong. I could actually come sit down and talk to the staff here at Our Place Peel about the problems and situations that I’m going through in life and they would hear me out all the way and give me excellent advice which I wasn’t able to get from my own parents. Although young adults and teenagers would love to go out on their own because they think life is so much better it wouldn’t be 'cause, no matter what you think, you still need that extra support and that's why I thank Our Place Peel. Without my stay here, I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for the staff and the residents that are here. So for all those young people who are planning to move out on their own, come to Our Place Peel first. To help prepare yourself for the real world because, to be honest with you, it isn't easy!

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our leadership

Board of Directors

Pamela Yudcovitch, LLB President

Pamela was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1987, and has been practicing management side labour and employment law since that time.  She currently oversees the labour and employment practice at Pallett Valo LLP, providing a broad range of advice and representation to employers. Her practice includes contract negotiation and collective bargaining, all aspects of labour and employee relations, human rights investigations and tribunal hearings, assisting management with workers' compensation and rate assessment issues, and defending wrongful dismissal claims. Pamela lives in Mississauga with her husband and two children and has been a member of the board of Our Place Peel since 2008.

Diana Noel Vice-President

Ingrid Obendorf Treasurer

Ingrid Obendorf is a Chartered Public Accountant and is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. She has over 7 years of public accounting experience with Grant Thornton serving small and large, private and public clients and has significant experience in accounting standards and financial reporting.

Ingrid lives in Mississauga with her husband and two dogs. She is passionate about making Peel a better place to grow up in and is looking forward to contribute her knowledge and time to this service in the region.

We are fortunate to have Ingrid join our Board; her passion to help with in the community will be a great benefit to Our Place Peel.

Caroline Brereton Secretary

A highly experienced senior healthcare executive with 15 years of leadership experience, Caroline Brereton became Chief Executive Officer of the Mississauga Halton CCAC in May 2010. Carolina is known for visionary leadership and transformation of organizations and teams.

Prior to coming to the CCAC Caroline was a Senior Healthcare Consultant, responsible for business development and strategic planning for the Canadian healthcare division of the Leading Edge Group, an international company focussed on lean methodologies in healthcare.

Caroline worked with Trillium Health Centre for more than a decade, holding various senior level positions, which culminated with her tenure as Vice President, People, Corporate & Clinical Support Services, a portfolio that managed 850 staff in corporate services, clinical support services and human resources functions.

Caroline has held positions on numerous boards. She has led provincial strategy development for the Ontario Hospital Association. She is also a member of the Canadian College of Health Services Executives

Caroline and her family have lived in Peel Region for many years. She is keenly interested in volunteering her time to a local organization that impacts the youth in the community in which she lives. We are very excited to have Caroline on our Board of Directors; her wealth of experience will be beneficial to us moving forward.

David Prosser
After a long successful career in sales, marketing and communication with Kodak Canada, David took an early retirement option to pursue a second career making a difference in the nonprofit sector. For the past five years he has been working as Development Director for Yorktown Family Services, an agency that operates a children’s mental health centre and a shelter for abused women in one of Toronto’s most at risk and under serviced communities. David joined the board of directors of Our Place Peel in 2009. He is proud to participate with Our Place Peel’s passionate team of managers, staff, board members and volunteers who are helping young people overcome the challenges that may limit their potential for happiness and success.

Philip Hyland, P.Eng.
Philip chose to join the board of Our Place Peel in 2009 when he realized the limited services available for youth in the Peel region. He believes that as young people develop it is critical for them and society as a whole that they have a safe place to go. Phil is the manager of Clinical Trial Manufacturing at GSK Canada in Mississauga.  He has been a resident of Mississauga for 23 years and is a proud father and grandfather.  Phil combines his passion for sport with his dedication to youth by also volunteering with the Peel Childrens’ Aid Society to train youth to run the Mississauga Marathon relay.  Never one to be idle, Phil plans to cycle across Canada one day.

Alan Nulle
As a long term resident of Mississauga and a 14 year veteran of the Peel Regional Police Force, Alan truly understands the many challenges and frustrations that affect our youth. He is passionate about Our Place Peel’s mission to provide safe shelter and support, giving youth the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. Alan graduated from York University with a B.A. in Mass Communications and Political Science. In addition to raising two young children with his wife, Alan is an active participant in Walk to Cure Juvenile Diabetes and is a member of the Toys for Tots committee. He joined Our Place Peel’s board of directors in 2010.

Vito Rizzuto
As an Investment Advisor with TD Waterhouse, Inc., Vito has been helping families across the GTA take control of their financial lives since 2000.  He has a B.A. in Economics from York University and has attained the FMA and FCSI designations from the Canadian Securities Institute. Vito and his wife are busy raising two young children.  He joined the board of directors in 2009, with the goal of helping to make the community he has worked in since 1998 a better place, especially for youth.

Jack Scott

A good friend brought to Jack's attention the growing challenge faced by youth without shelter in Peel Region. Once aware of the situation, Jack decided he would lend a helping hand to do what was possible to improve the resources and services available to assist and support at-risk youth. Getting involved with Our Place Peel was the logical next step. Jack is a father of three and three times a grandfather. A graduate of Bishops University (BBA), he worked for a large multi-national over 32 years before retiring and starting a second career in real estate. Jack has been involved in various community fund-raising projects supporting women's shelters and Credit Valley Hospital Foundation.

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our leadership

Christy Upshall Executive Director

Christy Upshall has been a part of the Our Place Peel team for more than 10 years. As Executive Director, Christy oversees all aspects of the organization, including the residential programs and any new programs. She is responsible for fundraising, fiscal responsibility and providing leadership support to the management team. Christy also ensures that the agency’s goals, values and mission are being met and leads the agency into further expansion.

After completing her BA from the University of Western Ontario and her Diploma in Child and Youth Work from Humber College, Christy worked at YSAP (Youth Substance Abuse Program), where she gained in-depth experience with youth addictions. While at YSAP, Christy decided to pursue a career working for a non-profit organization which supported youth. She chose Our Place Peel because it offers a one of a kind program in the Region of Peel, helping empower youth and putting the youths’ needs first and foremost.

Christy finds it very rewarding to see youth build the confidence to meet and exceed the goals they set for themselves and to look into the future with a positive outlook. “OPP is extremely important for the community as we are the only emergency shelter for homeless youth within the Region of Peel,” says Christy. “The Region has grown over the years and the need to support youth who are in need of shelter or who are at-risk is more important than ever. We have to recognize that youth are not just leaders of tomorrow but also of today and, at the end of the day, our young people will be the ones who will shape the future.”

She also appreciates the support the organization receives from the community. “I am always amazed at the commitment of the many volunteers who work endless hours to support the work that we do with in the community. Without volunteers, our work would suffer as we rely on them to support the youth, to guide the agency and to raise funds to ensure that Our Place Peel can thrive. Volunteers give up their free time to help make the community a better place.”

There are a variety of different reasons why young people end up homeless, yet the need for services and programs to assist these young people remain the same. With Christy’s passionate leadership, Our Place Peel will continue to support these youth so they can have a better future.

Jennifer Lema Shelter Manager

Jennifer Lema has been working at Our Place Peel since 2004, she started off as a placement student and realized that she had a passion for working with youth. After graduating with honours of Child and Youth Work at Humber College she decided to continue her education at Ryerson University completing her degree with a Bachelor of Child and Youth Care and a Minor in Human Resources. Jennifer's professional experience consists of Peel Children's Aid Society, Erin Oaks Kids and Peel District School Board. With this broad range of experience supporting children and youth with behavioural, emotional and physical needs; Jennifer found herself reconnecting back to Our Place Peel and pursued full time employment as the Resource Councellor in 2008. From this point forward Jennifer focused her professional career in supporting youth who are homeless overcome barriers in regards to housing and employment. Currently Jennifer has taken another step forward in becoming Our Place Peel's Shelter Manager. She is eager to take on this new role and is excited about her future involvement with Our Place Peel.

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