LISTOWEL – Listowel’s It Takes A Village has received a donation from a local organization dedicated to mental health resources for youth in Huron and Perth counties.
The Tanner Steffler Foundation (TSF) based out of Huron County received funding for its Cultivating Hope in Huron & Perth County project and, after discovering the Village, donated tents, gear, and a financial contribution.
The TSF was founded in 2017 by John and Heather Steffler. Their son Tanner struggled with a substance use disorder and sadly passed away from a drug overdose at the age of 19. After hearing from others who offered their support, a common problem arose: a lack of resources for youth in the region. “Repeatedly,” the TSF About page reads, “stories told of the lack of immediate access to services, short term treatment centres with no follow-up care, youth being shuffled from one provider to another, long waitlists and doors being closed repeatedly. Despite their intense grief, John and Heather created the Tanner Steffler Foundation in August 2017, and are committed to saving the lives of Huron County youth so that others don’t have to suffer like Tanner and his family.”
Tanner was more than his disorder, as the page reads. “He had a great sense of humour, was a talented musician, enjoyed being with his peers, had a soft spot for his loveable bulldog and had college acceptances to fulfill his career goal of an X-ray technician. Tanner grew up in a good home, was raised with strong values, love and kindness by his caring and supportive parents, John and Heather Steffler. He also had two younger sisters who are well adjusted and healthy.”
Charlee Steffler is Tanner’s sister; her brother died when she was just 11 years old. She serves as secretary of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to the TSF.
The YAC is made up of youth from the ages of 12 to 24 that serve as mental health advocates for TSF. As Charlee says, “the foundation relies on us to help make decisions or help guide them in what way we feel our county, or our health-care system is failing us. We have meetings bi-weekly, we have some fundraisers and stuff. We also talk about what places we can improve on and where we can help out within our community.”
Charlee and Leah Partridge of the YAC visited the Village on June 18 to make their donation. “We donated $500 and a tent,” Charlee said.
“We donated around $1,000 worth of things like tents, sleeping bags, bug spray, first aid kits, ponchos, emergency blankets.” They emailed back and forth with Andrea Charest of the Village to determine what to donate and what was needed.
In an email to Charest, Charlee wrote “we have taken some time over the past month to consider all of the amazing people and organizations that are happy to help those more vulnerable in our community. During this time we discovered It Takes A Village and instantly fell in love with all you do.”
She later went on to say, “We came to know them from our homelessness project that we’re doing. We were just researching shelters and organizations who were helping those who are living rough and those who may not have everything that it takes to live a really good quality of life. And we found It Takes A Village… we decided to put some of our grant money towards their organization. We went out and met Andrea, we met some of the workers there. We donated and tried to support as much as we could. We’re definitely going to be back.”
Connor Luczka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner