Annual Report 2019

We are a non-profit, private, volunteer-directed social enterprise dedicated to community building.

We identify community needs and establish and operate ventures that speak to those needs. We are the oldest Community Development Corporation in Canada and a founding member of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network. Our Mission, to engage the community to create a culture of self-reliance, is as relevant today as it was when the organization was founded back in 1976.

Our work falls into two broad categories: We respond to current needs, developing community-based solutions in the areas of housing, at-home senior care, meal delivery, and immigration settlement. We also work to change systems & structures that impede Cape Breton’s vibrancy and its prosperity. Today New Dawn is focused on immigration, governance, and capital.

As a non-profit social enterprise, some of our services generate revenues. These revenues are reinvested in New Dawn, allowing us to develop new projects and take on new community issues in pursuit of a more vibrant and self-reliant Cape Breton Island.

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Chair's Message

Myrtle Campbell, Chair of the Board, New Dawn Enterprises

Chair's Message

When I think back — and it hasn’t been that long — to the day New Dawn purchased the Holy Angels Convent, who could have imagined then the impressive transformation we would witness over the next seven years?

In a community that has seen more than its share of pain and challenges, it was time for a reality shift. I’ve heard people say this building will be a catalyst for change, but we all know the true catalyst is our people. Brick and mortar are important, but they can only do so much. It is the people that inspire others, that inspire awe, that pave the way for the future.

The amazing thing is, we just don’t stop. We aspire to do great things and we aspire to do great things well. Here is just a small list:

Our incredible New Dawn Homecare and New Dawn Guest Home have received the highest possible rating from Accreditation Canada.

Our dedicated New Dawn Properties division has worked tirelessly to provide safe, clean, comfortable places to live — our goal is to provide a home.

Our fabulous New Dawn Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers continue to provide nutritious meals throughout Cape Breton during the most challenging of times.

Our wonderful A Better Bite Cafe in The Convent, as well as our new commercial tenant, Island Folk Cider House in the former St. George’s Hall, will play a major role in the revitalization of the Northend of Sydney.

Finally, I was one of over 2,700 grateful visitors who attended the second annual “Hello Cape Breton” festival at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion hosted by our Centre for Immigration. This was a memorable experience. What a joy to be immersed in a celebration of culture, food, dance, dress, history, and voices from around the world.

I want to thank all of New Dawn’s staff and many volunteers. Your contributions and energy make New Dawn what it is today. I would also like to thank New Dawn’s volunteer Board of Directors. Words cannot express my gratitude for the time, commitment, and passion of a very special team.

Board of Directors

Myrtle Campbell

Nurse (Retired)

Vice Chair
Jerry Ryan

CAO (Retired)

Dorothy Payne

Synergy Louisbourg

Ex Officio
Rankin MacSween

New Dawn Enterprises

Norma Boyd

COO (Retired)
New Dawn Enterprises

Eric Favaro

Artscape Consulting

Dr. John Gainer

Dr. John Gainer and Associates

Alicia Lake

Community Development Consultant
Pan-Cape Breton Food Hub

Kerri Anne MacKenzie

International Centre for English Academic Preparation

Alyce MacLean

Special Projects Coordinator
Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies

Alex Paul

Executive Director
Mi’kmaq Economic Benefits Office

Dr. Laura Whyte

Hope House Recovery Home; physician, Cape Breton Regional Hospital

President's Report

President's Message

What began in 2012 with a wild idea — to purchase and redevelop the 130- year-old Holy Angels Convent — came to a close in 2019 after seven years of planning, designing, funding, and rebuilding The Convent.

And while the journey was not without the struggle that is inescapable in labouring on a project of this size, New Dawn is much richer and much more for having endured.

This is a project — the constructing of a $17 million arts centre in a depleted community — that should have been too big for New Dawn. In other communities, these types of infrastructure developments are undertaken by municipalities, in partnerships with private developers, or by organizations with bigger budgets and longer, deeper fundraising histories.

But this is New Dawn’s way. To identify the work that stands to transform us, and — no matter the size of the assignment before us or who should be doing it or what is required of us to see it through — to make it happen in service of a more vibrant, self-reliant Cape Breton Island. Quite simply, the audacity to entertain wild ideas, and the tenacity to see them through, are woven into the spirit of who we are.

As the reconstruction of The Convent comes to an end and we are called to reflect back on what we’ve learned over the last seven years, a number of insights stand out.

First, poor communities need beautiful buildings. When buildings are built for people who are poor, they are built to be functional and cost- effective only. They are not built to be beautiful. This has long been the case in Cape Breton, where beauty was not a luxury afforded to us in buildings conceived of, and designed, from afar. But the spaces we spend time in are like mirrors. They reflect back to us how we are thought of by those who built them: how much we are valued and what we are thought to be worthy of. In turn, they shape the way we see ourselves.

The Convent is a beautiful building. It was built with great care, and with love and respect for those who would one day occupy its halls. And so now, as we look to the next phase of our Convent journey, our work becomes to make welcome in it precisely those who believe they are undeserving of occupying beautiful spaces.

Second, while we always knew that The Convent when finished would provide the community with a space to gather, The Convent in-progress gave us this, too. The last seven years have been a conversation in which both the size of the table and the number of voices gathered around it have continued to grow.

From the artists who helped shape the spaces inside, to the Holy Angels alumni who encouraged the reuse of their beloved buildings, and the incomparable design team who thought so carefully about the light and the energy in each space, we have had the privilege of hosting one long conversation among people who care deeply about the Island and each other. We have, as it turns out, built a community in the process of building a building.

And for the first time in New Dawn’s history, this community has included the voices of the Mi’kmaq. The Convent has been, and will continue to be, enriched by the leadership of our Elders Advisory Committee — Dolena Mary Poulette, Anita Basque, Pauline Isadore, Ernest Johnson, and Lawrence Wells — who have guided us, gently, astutely, and with much humour, on how to create a space that feels safe to, and welcoming of, the Island’s Mi’kmaw artists and communities.

The Convent has given us a place from which we can begin to build bridges to communities we have long been separated from. We are grateful for the patience and generosity shown to us as we learn what it means to work toward reconciliation, and we know this is a relationship that comes with the responsibility to acknowledge both our dark past and that, today, we are all still treaty people.

Finally, all of this — this conversation, this spirit of gathering, this lure of wild ideas, this tenacious effort — is far from limited to New Dawn’s work on The Convent.

In 2019 alone, the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration prepared to open up a vibrant new downtown gathering space in the Crowell’s building — a place where newcomers and international students can be together, connect with the broader community, and put down roots.

A Better Bite and New Dawn Meals on Wheels prepared for the opening of A Better Bite Café — the fulfillment of a dream that was cast years prior, and one that adds momentum, visibility, and life to the steady building of this significant community food enterprise.

New Dawn Properties facilitated the opening of the Nova Scotia Power Makerspace in the New Dawn Centre and of the Island Folk Cider House in the former St. George’s Hall; and New Dawn Community Engagement helped sow the seeds for a Northside Hub at Community CARES Youth Outreach, and a Cape Breton Island data portal.

To be witness to all of this is to be witness to the human spirit at its best.

New Dawn Properties

Nova Scotia Power Makerspace Opens Doors in New Dawn Centre

In 2019, the Nova Scotia Power Makerspace cut the ribbon on its 4,000 sq. ft. innovation hub located in the repurposed gymnasium of the former Holy Angels High School.

Member start-ups, entrepreneurs, students, and other creatives have 24/7 access to the facility which includes a tool library, metal fabrication shop, electronics/robotics lab, 3D printers, and more.

The Makerspace is managed by Innovacorp, a tenant of ours in the New Dawn Centre since 2017.

New Dawn Welcomes Cape Breton’s First Cider House as Tenant

After years searching for the perfect location, Cape Breton’s first cidery, Island Folk Cider House, moved into St. George’s Hall in 2019.

New Dawn purchased the Hall from St. George’s Church and we helped retrofit the historic building to meet the cidery’s needs. CBRM approved the rezoning of the property to allow for production, sales, and an in-house tasting room set to open in 2020.

Island Folk Cider House is one of thirteen commercial tenants of New Dawn Properties.

Island Folk Cider House

Residential Tenant Satisfaction Survey

We conducted a residential tenant satisfaction survey in 2019 to better understand the needs of tenants and to identify opportunities to improve the services we provide. Among the survey results:

  • 100% of respondents would recommend a New Dawn apartment to others as a good place to live.
  • 99% of respondents said they were very satisfied with New Dawn staff being respectful when dealing with tenants.
  • 97% of respondents said they were somewhat/very satisfied with New Dawn’s housing.
  • 96% of respondents said they were somewhat/very satisfied with New Dawn keeping their building safe and secure.
  • 93% of respondents said they were somewhat/very satisfied with the overall condition and cleanliness of the buildings.
  • 92% of tenants reported that repairs are completed within the timeline given by New Dawn.
  • 91% of respondents said they have seen savings in their power bill since a heat pump was installed in their unit.

Leadership in Understanding and Addressing Homelessness and Affordable Housing

New Dawn Properties continues to be a member of the Strait-Richmond Housing Matters group, and in 2019 we joined the Affordable Housing and Homelessness Working Group in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

New Dawn Meals on Wheels

Volunteers Recognized for Dedication

At the annual New Dawn Meals on Wheels Volunteer Appreciation BBQ, volunteers were awarded certificates in recognition of their years of services — and eight individuals received plaques marking over 10 years of service!

The Meals on Wheels program depends on community volunteers to thrive. All of our meals are delivered to the doorsteps of our clients and this would not be possible without our team of volunteers.

Donnie and Elaine MacRae say when they started volunteering they were going to try it out and deliver a few meals. Today, seventeen years and over 7,000 meals later, the two continue to deliver for the program and enjoy every minute of it.

“We just love meeting people and we feel that these people are now a part of our family,” says Donnie. “It’s something we really enjoy. We feel like we’re giving back to the community.”

Award Recipients:

  • Edward MacPherson — 27 years
  • Dolly Peters — 26 years
  • Audrey Forgeron — 22 years
  • Ray Antle — 17 years
  • Donnie MacRae — 17 years
  • Elaine MacRae — 17 years
  • Lucy Nardini — 15 years
  • Mac Cameron — 12 years

Meals on Wheels Nova Scotia

At a 2019 gathering of the more than thirty Meals on Wheels organizations in Nova Scotia, a coordinated provincial approach was identified as a priority.

Meals on Wheels programs across the province have the same goal: to feed seniors in their communities. Consequently, the various organizations that manage these programs benefit from coming together to learn from and motivate each other.

This was the impetus for creating an online resource-sharing hub to support a province-wide network of Meals on Wheels organizations. The sharing of experiences and approaches — from sourcing the best packaging for meal deliveries and the procurement of local ingredients to the creation of menus that meet seniors’ wide variety of dietary needs — will result in better care for those who rely on us.

Meals on Wheels Nova Scotia

Matching Local Organizations with Volunteers

At a fair hosted by New Dawn Meals on Wheels and supported in part by United Way of Cape Breton, members of the community seeking meaningful and worthwhile volunteer opportunities were introduced to local groups such as Lumière, St. John Ambulance, and others, in addition to New Dawn Meals on Wheels.

These organizations are just like us in that they rely on only an hour or two, here and there, from people who have an hour or two to give.

Matching organizations with volunteers also helps ensure that people in our community, especially seniors, looking to remain active are able to do so in meaninful and worthwhile ways.

New Dawn Guest Home & Home Living

Guest Home Resident Curls in Scotties Tournament of Hearts

New Dawn Guest Home resident Mary Campbell, a curler with the Canadian National Team for the Visually Impaired, had the opportunity to curl at the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts held in Sydney.

Mary, who has been blind since birth, has been curling for almost 11 years and, in 2019, won a gold medal at a tournament in Ottawa.

“The Scottie’s Tournament was very exciting for me,” says Mary. “I got to meet many members of the Canadian Curling Team and also did a demonstration for the crowd. I have many good memories from that experience.”

Sydney-Sunrise Rotary Club Makes Donation to Guest Home Residents

Each year, New Dawn Guest Home is supported by a number of amazing community organizations — including the Sydney-Sunrise Rotary Club. The Rotary Club dedicates time each month to visit residents and participate in recreational activities.

In the summer of 2019, In addition to this generous gift of time, New Dawn Guest home residents received a generous donation of free vouchers for Ribfest thanks to the Sydney-Sunrise Rotary Club.

Our residents were grateful for the donation and a good time was had by all!

Sydney-Sunrise Rotary Club

New Dawn Earns Highest Possible Quality Rating from Accreditation Canada

In 2019, New Dawn Homecare and New Dawn Guest Home were Accredited with Exemplary Standing — the highest possible quality rating — by Accreditation Canada in their “Qmentum” program.

Accreditation Canada is an independent not-for-profit organization that shares global best practices and sets national standards for quality and safety in healthcare.
Accreditation Canada’s survey team spent three days evaluating New Dawn’s Guest Home and Homecare services, policies, and procedures against recognized best-in-class national standards.
Among Accreditation Canada’s report findings are that:

  • New Dawn Enterprises has gone beyond the requirements of the Qmentum accreditation program.
  • A major success of New Dawn is its unwavering focus on engaging the community to create and support a culture of self-reliance within a population health paradigm.
  • Client-centred care is the foundation of New Dawn Homecare and Guest Home.
  • New Dawn are exemplary leaders who are committed to creating a learning organization where continuous improvement is an ongoing principle of quality.

The award is valid through to 2023.

Accreditation Canada

Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration

A World Gathering on an Island

In 2019, CBICI hosted the 2nd annual Hello Cape Breton multicultural festival at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney. Through a full day of performances, food, and art from around the world, the free event celebrated the diversity of the people who call Cape Breton Island home.

This year’s event welcomed over 2,700 visitors.

We are thankful for the hard work and dedication of the more than 200 volunteers who helped put the festival together, as well as support from the community.

The centrepiece of the festival was the multicultural village, comprised of seven international pavilions, representing places in the world from which many of Cape Breton’s newcomers originate. This included China, Africa, India, the Middle East, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Europe.

International Student Testimonials

Through welcoming and orientation activities, we helped more than 500 international students and graduates connect with the community, with the goal of post-graduate retention. This was made possible through combined funding from NSOI (Nova Scotia Office of Immigration) and ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency).

“CBICI supports international students by helping to build up connections between students and local communities with lots of multicultural activities, outdoor education, and training courses. I’m gaining networking experiences and contributing to the future development of CBRM.” —Jessica Huynh

“Your frequent job fairs and training sessions help equip newcomers like me with essential skills and close the gap between job seekers and employers. Plus free trips to explore the local nature! You have opened my eyes to a rich cultural land and its beautiful potential. My love and connection toward Cape Breton grows stronger day by day. CBICI makes me want to stay here and helps me to stay here. From the bottom of my heart, I am deeply grateful for the encouraging and positive energy provided by your professional, dedicated, and enthusiastic staff.” —Le Hoang Tram

“I was part of almost all the activities held by CBICI, from Hello Cape Breton to First Aid training to the Ski Ben Eoin trip. These experiences boosted my mood and made me more relaxed and excited for my future here.” —Jashandeep Singh

“Thank you, you give international students like me the opportunity to participate in many useful activities to exchange and learn about local culture, life, and economies. You help international students better understand life here, and to make plans to stay and contribute to building and developing this beautiful island.” —Hường Võ Thị

“By organizing events like Hello Cape Breton, you help international students feel less homesick. Thank you CBICI!” —Bhanu Prakash

A Better Bite Community Kitchen

Good Food Bus Hits the Road in CBRM

The Good Food Bus launched as a pilot in 2019. The retrofitted accessible bus lowers barriers to accessing healthy food by bringing an affordable, fresh food market-on-wheels to communities throughout CBRM.

We collaborate with hosts in selected communities, and a team of volunteers helps our staff repackage and deliver fresh fruit and veggies, often in portions that are smaller — and therefore more affordable — than grocery store options.

The project is led by a committee with representatives from New Dawn and A Better Bite; United Way Cape Breton; Ecology Action Centre; Island Food Network; Nova Scotia Health Authority; CBRM Recreation; CBRM Transit; and CBRM Council.

Community Kitchen Expands to State-of-the-Art Facility

In 2019, we continued to exceed the expectations and goals set in 2017 in our 3-year strategic plan. This meant additional resources and space were needed to continue to meet the growing needs of the community.

As renovations wrapped up at The Convent, staff prepared for the expansion into our new, larger state-of-the-art facilities on the second floor of Sydney’s newest arts and culture centre.

The move means we can better serve our New Dawn Meals on Wheels clients while being able to prepare food for other community organizations that serve vulnerable populations, including other Meals on Wheels service providers.

The next phase of the expansion will be the opening of A Better Bite Cafe in 2020. The Cafe will provide a bright new meetup space for community members, tenants, staff, and visitors to enjoy a nutritious meal and a freshly brewed beverage in the historic North End of Sydney. Revenue from the cafe will support New Dawn Meals on Wheels.

Eat. Think. Vote.

In partnership with United Way Cape Breton and Ecology Action Centre, we brought community members together with candidates running for federal office for a pre-election campaign discussion designed to ensure that food is an election issue. The goal, as part of a nationwide effort, was to make sure that the incoming government is aware of the need for policy that encourages a food system that is healthy, sustainable, and just.

Travel Plans

2019 was a year for making connections. A Better Bite Community Kitchen Manager, Claire Turpin, and New Dawn Meals on Wheels Coordinator, Kathleen Whelan, met with representatives from the Halifax Mobile Food Market in preparation for the pilot of The Good Food Bus. While in Halifax, Claire and Kathleen met with Meals on Wheels cohorts from Dartmouth and Halifax. Next it was off to Toronto to learn about the Community Food Centre of Canada, and similar organizations, to gain some insight in advance of the opening of A Better Bite Cafe.

New Dawn Homecare

Delfy, Alphy, and Isaac

Delfy arrived in Cape Breton from India in 2017 to pursue education at Cape Breton University. A nurse in India, she was hired as a Patient Attendant with New Dawn Homecare. Her husband, Alphy John, himself a nurse, arrived from India and was hired not long after. Both have become valued and dedicated members of our team in the years that have followed.

They often discussed with us their options to permanently immigrate to Canada, one of which involved Alphy obtaining his Continuing Care Assistant certification. We were pleased to provide whatever support they needed and wrote several recommendation letters on the family’s behalf.
While pursuing the CCA designation, the couple welcomed their first child, a beautiful baby boy named Isaac — who has become one of our favourite visitors to the Homecare offices!

We were thrilled when, in 2019, Delfy, Alphy, and little Isaac arrived to announce that the hard work had paid off and Alphy had been granted permanent residency in Canada.

Delfy and Alphy demonstrate the values of New Dawn every day, both professionally and within the community. We are so pleased they chose New Dawn Homecare as their employer.

Meeting a Growing Need

Following 2018’s needs-assessment survey, in 2019 we officially expanded, delivering home and hospital-based services to Victoria County and Strait/Richmond area. Staff were hired from within the communities following a number of job fairs held across the counties. Meanwhile, as demand for private nursing services grew in CBRM, New Dawn Homecare met the need by increasing our capacity to provide palliative care at home, medication management, wound care, and more. The addition of a Nurse Care Coordinator to our Management team allowed us to provide these services with the highest possible quality and safety.

Qmentum Accreditation

The accreditation process which began in 2017 with Accreditation Canada’s Primer Award culminated in 2019 with New Dawn Homecare receiving Exemplary Standing, the highest possible recognition, after meeting the 500+ national healthcare standards of the Qmentum global best-practices program.

Retirement Tea

In 2019, three long-time employees of New Dawn Homecare — Linda Gottwald (5 years), Mary McIntyre (15 years), and Lorraine Costigan (32 years) — were celebrated at a Retirement Tea to thank them for their years of service and the difference they’ve made in the lives of our beloved clients.

The Convent

Elders Advisory Committee

For almost the entire redevelopment journey, in addition to guidance from New Dawn staff and board, our team has been served and supported by an Advisory Committee comprised of tenants, artists, and community members.

This year, we engaged the advice of an Elders Advisory Committee with Elders from each of the Island’s five Mi’kmaq communities: Ernest Johnson (Eskasoni), Anita Basque (Potlotek), Lawrence Wells (Membertou), Dolena Mary Poullette (We’koqma’q), and Pauline Isadore (Wagmatcook).

The Committee gathered every two months and undertook the drafting of a land recognition statement to be designed and installed at all the building’s entrances, and the creation of a process to identify the seven artists to be featured in The Convent’s second floor Mi’kmaw Artist Gallery (working title).

The work and gatherings of the Elders Advisory Committee have been supported by the guidance and leadership of Robert Bernard and Dean Simon of the Diversity Management Group (now Indigenous Guide Consulting Services).

A Dream Dreamed Together

The revitalization of a 130-year-old building would not have been possible without the many professionals involved in its redesign and reconstruction.

Spyro Trifos, Principal of Trifos Design Consultants, served as the project’s Architect of Record. Spyro guided and coordinated dozens of engineers and trades through the very complex process of updating the building’s services, interiors, and exterior to meet current building codes and tenant needs.

Joe Lobko, a partner with DTAH in Toronto, joined The Convent project in the early days to consult on the building’s conceptual re-design and site planning. Joe brought with him a wealth of experience in both design for the arts and the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings.

Bob Horwath, Site Manager with DORA Construction, oversaw every aspect of the work on the ground from demolition to the two subsequent years of day-to-day trades oversight. His enthusiasm for making the Convent a beautiful and robust new space for artists and the community was evident in everything he did.

Rezoning for Sustainability

With a desire to protect outdoor green space for The Convent’s tenants, visitors, and the neighbourhood, we initiated a municipal rezoning process centred on the provision of parking. This process sought to have the property rezoned so that we could:

(1) operate with our existing on-site parking; and (2) open a public-serving Meals on Wheels cafe.

Existing municipal bylaws would have required that 24 additional parking spaces be added on site at the expense of the property’s green space.

At a time when many Canadian urban areas are working to preserve and expand green spaces for both residents’ well-being and climate change mitigation, we saw this as an opportunity to engage the community and municipality in a conversation about planning priorities.

The way in which we travel — by foot, bike, car, and/or public transportation — will change in the CBRM in the coming years, although perhaps at a slower pace, and The Convent aspired to begin its new life from a place of greater sustainability.

Community Engagement

Island Food Network: Building a Shared Vision

In 2019, we worked with the Island Food Network in undertaking a community engagement process to develop a ‘shared food vision’ for the Island. The process was led by its Food Policy Working Group, made up of individuals involved in local food and food security issues.

The group drafted a vision high- lighting key themes to be explored and nearly 300 people from all parts of the Island weighed in through an online survey or at one of eight community food conversations.

After reviewing the findings with participants in a session titled ‘What We Heard’, the shared food vision was finalized (for now) and is available online.

Data Portal: Knowing Our Community

New Dawn Community Engagement is developing an online community dataportal (and interpretive blog) for Cape Breton Island. Its purpose is to raise awareness about local concerns (from population decline and climate change to housing, health, poverty, and more); to highlight what local people are doing to address them; and to encourage others to contribute to the work.

Laura Syms, a Business and Data Services Librarian at CBU, and Jamie Whitters, a GIS/Planning Technologist with CBRM’s Planning Department, have lent their expertise to the project, helping to define local geographies and identify sources of data.

For Laura, the project is an extension of the support she provides to faculty and students at CBU. “Sometimes data just confirms what we know, but sometimes it opens up a whole new appreciation of an issue,” she says. “In either case, it provides the basic information needed to think carefully about our communities.”

For Jamie, who has long used data to support the work of the CBRM Planning Department, the data portal is a tool for bringing such information to the wider community. “It’s hard to do anything without good data,” he says. “It’s like flying a plane without a control panel. This project will give people the information they need to participate in public discussions.”

Northside Hub: Infrastructure for Stronger Communities

In a former school building on the Northside, Community CARES Youth Outreach is developing a ‘community hub’ — a new form of community infrastructure gaining support across the country. The hub serves three purposes: connecting residents, fostering local leadership, and improving access to services. Youth involvement in the hub is Community CARES’ special commitment.

Vickey Sheppard, a participant in the hub, leads programming on the Northside for the Cape Breton Family Place Resource Centre. “Not only is the hub making our program for moms and babies accessible,” she says, “it is also linking them to other supports like housing assistance. Even more than that, we see the hub as a place where people can simply be part of their community — belong, participate, contribute.”

Community CARES Youth Outreach