It was 11:45 p.m on Saturday December 13th, 2003 and I had just returned home from seeing a show with my wife when the phone rang. It was a supervisor from Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre, our sister agency on Blake Street, in great distress asking if I could come immediately to the centre. A young man who worked part-time at the centre had been murdered at 80 Blake Street. Kempton Howard, 24 years old, had been shot and killed as he got off of the elevator just down the hall from his mother’s apartment. Two young men were waiting there for him - angry about something from the previous night. They made the tragic choice to take his life. I spent the next day in the community doing crisis response for so many children, youth and adults who were devastated by the news of the murder. For many he was a mentor, for others a dear friend, and for all of us a cherished member of the community. For the ensuing many weeks our Outreach Youth Worker Jen and I were involved in coordinating memorials and facilitating a grieving process. By way of individual and group counselling, and other small and large gatherings we spent countless hours helping people through the emotional trauma related to this unimaginable event. This was how our year 2004 began. No longer could I claim with pride that since we began operation fifteen years ago there had never been a major act of violence in our community. Deep personal reflection yielded intense reactions. Anger that this could possibly happen. Guilt that we couldn’t somehow prevent it. And the eventual acceptance that we work in a volatile environment with an extremely vulnerable clientele; that we are here to do all that we can to help them improve their lives and opportunities; and that we must continue our work of the past fifteen years with new energy, knowledge and keen awareness of the harsh realities of our pursuits. These trials and challenges are what BBYOS is all about. Managing whatever is thrown at us or comes our way and finding ways to succeed. This year we took the energy created by crisis and grew. Jennifer Forde has brought such an incredible dynamism to our operation, connecting brilliantly with so many young women in need of support, empathy and a strong adult female role model. Every Thursday afternoon her group “The Girls Club” meets at our centre for 3-4 hours and works on relationships, sexuality and health. They cook, cry and talk about anything important in their lives. And they even clean everything up! By special request during last school year we spent a half day per week in both East York and Danforth Collegiate, providing intensive counselling for their students with special emotional and personal difficulties. This year we are receiving an increased amount of referrals and special requests from other schools as well. The number of parents calling in distress about the relationships with their youth is greater than ever. Working with these clients is rewarding as we watch their conflicts resolve into heightened mutual understanding and improved performance across the board. Along with all of our success comes the ever present challenge of fundraising. And a challenge it is. I know that we are just one of many valuable and vital services in our city that ask for your support. But as we do each year we call on you again to help us carry on our work with high-risk youth and families. We ask you to continue supporting our small, unique and very successful agency where we truly help people to change their lives for the better, which as we know in the end benefits each and every one of us. I hope that you have had a healthy year and that you are able to once again, or perhaps for the first time, lend your support to Blake Boultbee Youth Outreach Service. Sincerely yours, Rod Cohen Executive Director P.S. This year I would like to highlight the contributions of two very special supporters of our agency. Firstly, I want to thank Marcus and Wendy Bennison at ‘Mississauga Graphics’. For many years now they have donated their services for all of our printing requirements. This includes our letterhead, reports, mailings, envelopes and annual campaigns. Their support doesn’t stop there as they have also given us dozens of pairs of Leafs and Raptors tickets so that our kids and parents can see them play live. Thank you for everything you have done and do for us! This year we were so fortunate to have the social marketing firm ‘Duegood’ contribute their expertise and resources, enabling us to produce our new brochure. We are sure that it will be an excellent tool for both promoting our organization and helping us with fundraising. Our immense gratitude goes out to John Di Costanzo and Heather Mains for their passion and vision.