Since 2005, the Astley Family Foundation has followed its passion – funding programs that help youth grow and flourish, particularly youth who have to overcome the challenges of poverty.
For Jennifer Astley, this means a focus on what can be the most significant and challenging time in a young person’s life – that awkward transition from childhood to adulthood.
“For me, it was a time of being unsure of myself and where I saw myself,” said Jennifer. “I had to figure out my place in the world, and where I wanted to go.”
That challenge can be even more difficult for some, because the kinds of programs that are readily available to most families are simply out of reach for others.
“I had a lot of supports growing up, but that’s not true for everyone. That’s why youth engagement is so important to my family – we want youth to know that they’re valued and that they’re worth it.” – Jennifer Astley
For several years, the Astley Family Foundation has supported after-school programming through House of Friendship’s Neighbourhoods programs.
Jennifer has been able to visit some of these programs in person, including a visit to House of Friendship’s Sunnydale Community Centre, where she saw homework help in progress.
“Just the enthusiasm that the youth had while they were learning was incredible,” said Jennifer. “It’s my family’s hope at the Astley Family Foundation that every youth will finish high school – there’s just so much research showing how that really supports long-term success in life.”
She also enjoyed the cooking class for youth, where the participants had to choose the recipe and work on it together.
“They are learning a life skill,” said Jennifer. “And we all know what a great connector food can be.”
And when she visited Courtland Shelley Community Centre, Jennifer saw so many youth and children running over to say “hi” to Jonathan, House of Friendship’s community centre supervisor.
“It was incredible to see them light up, just knowing that they have that connection with their community,” said Jennifer. “It just feels good to be part of something like that.”