Warm welcome

Donors brought comfort and family to dozens of youth and young adults living on the streets

By Anna Holtby - 10 June 2021


Twins Brianna, middle, and Zeke Tyhy were kicked out of their home at 14. The donor-funded OUTpost shelter, led by Corey Wyness, left, and informed by U of A research, helped them and dozens of other 2SLGBTQ+ youth and young adults find safety and belonging.


At 14, twins Zeke and Brianna Tyhy came home from school to find a note stuck to the front door of their home in central Alberta.

“Please leave. You’re not welcome here anymore,” the note read. It was signed by their mom.

Both Zeke, a transgender male, and Brianna, who identifes as bisexual, had recently come out to their mom. The twins spent the rest of their teen years couchsurfing and living at shelters, eventually making their way to Edmonton in 2019.

There, they discovered OUTpost, a donor-supported project of the University of Alberta’s Community Health Empowerment & Wellness (CHEW) Project. OUTpost is a drop-in day shelter for 2SLGBTQ+ youth and young adults that provides food, warm clothing, counselling and a place to rest away from the chaos of the streets.

OUTpost served 128 young people last year, with about 20 visitors each day. The shelter’s work is informed by research conducted by the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, part of the Faculty of Education.

“When you become homeless at a very young age, you need to learn how to become an adult right that second. The family of OUTpost is just downright amazing. People actually love you again,” says Zeke, who now has a home after eight years in the shelter system.

Corey Wyness, OUTpost coordinator, says 2SLGBTQ+ youth and young adults are often bullied or assaulted at shelters, so making sure these young people have a safe, dedicated space to rest is essential.

In 2020, around 250 donors gave to OUTpost, allowing Wyness to add a shower and provide on-site and take-away snacks for clients. Donors also helped pay the tuition fees of three young people, allowing them to obtain their high school diplomas. Meeting basic needs allows his clients to find hope for a future off the street, Wyness explains.

“I thank donors from the bottom of my heart for giving us the means to create that hope for these kids,” Wyness says. “We’re not talking one or two. We’re talking well over a hundred youth. Some of them are now sober. They’re looking at housing. We’ve given them a chance to thrive and become resilient.”

“Our youth don’t feel safe going to the main shelters. But it’s just like home when they walk in here. And it’s so incredible to see so much hope in such a time when the world is not so hopeful.” — Corey Wyness, OUTpost coordinator

Sexual-minority youth and young adults face challenges their peers do not. Studies show they are more than three times more likely to die from suicide, while between 25 and 40 per cent of 16- to 26-year-olds who experience homelessness identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

At OUTpost, Wyness works to ensure clients feel like they belong. He’s done this for Zeke and Brianna, who both refer to Wyness as “Dad” and still visit OUTpost regularly to share a meal with their chosen family.

“It warms my heart to come in every day and see the youth smiling and laughing and being silly teenagers,” says Wyness. “It’s because of those donor contributions that we’re able to provide that hope. It has saved lives.”

Donor Impact



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