For our latest featured local charity we spoke with the people at Jake’s House whose fundraising and volunteer efforts help support children and families living with autism through their support systems. We spoke with Jennifer Joseph, CEO of Jake’s House, to find out more about what they do.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Jake’s House is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to providing support to families affected by autism.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Our mission is to provide meaningful support to children and families living with autism across Canada. We strive to be present within the community, understand the needs of our families, support each other and empower youth with autism to gain strength to reach their full potential.
When did you start/join it?
Jake’s House was founded in 2004 by the parents of three young boys, the youngest two being affected by autism. I joined the charity as a volunteer in 2010. I started working with the charity a few years later and in June of 2017 I was named the CEO at the same time that Jake’s House received Provincial funding for the very first time.
What made you want to get involved?
My education is in teaching. I was immediately drawn to the nature of support being provided by Jake’s House programming and events. There is always an attempt to directly reach out and interact with the families and their children in a meaningful way. My first event was the 2014 holiday party. There were about 600 people in total. It was clear right from walking into the room that families felt at home and were made to feel comfortable regardless of the severity of the condition of their child. I immediately knew this was an effort that I wanted to support. Jake’s House has always found a way to be positive and supportive to our families all while being very compassionate to their very unique challenges.
What was the situation like when you started?
The charity had built both a huge base of support in the volunteer world mostly at the high school and university level. They also had thousands of families that they had supported already built into their data base. Our signature program, Legends, was just getting support from the Provincial government. We definitely had all of the pieces in place, we just needed to put them together. I feel very fortunate to have arrived at the charity at the moment when everything was coming together in such a positive fashion.
How has it changed since?
The growth since 2017 has been meteoric on so many levels. The Province has renewed their support for the Legends Program. The Federal government recently supported our employment internship program, which is essentially a follow up program to Legends. We start with individuals when they are young with Legends and as they stay with us, we hope we can get them meaningful opportunities within Corporate Canada with our Federally funded internship program.
What more needs to be done?
We wanted to support our two programs with a campaign that would bring light to all the good that we are providing to those dealing with autism. We could have never expected what happened on April 2nd at the Sony Center with the support of a global superstar like Roger Hodgson. That he was so willing to visit us and have our families join him stage to share in his iconic song Give a Little Bit means the world to our community. It was truly as they say, a game changer for our organization.
We encourage all to check out the inspiring video of our Jake’s House family members who joined Roger Hodgson of Supertramp on stage for his classic song ‘Give a Little Bit.’ Please share and give a little bit to this important cause: www.give2jakes.ca.
How can our readers help?
Jake’s House has launched our own version of Give a Little Bit, a campaign to raise funds for our ongoing programming, and we would love your help. Please share this video featuring the talented youth from the performance on your social channels and with your friends and family. If everyone can Give Little Bit, we can change a whole lot. Visit www.jakeshouse.ca/givealittlebit to learn how you can make a difference.
Do you have any events coming up?
Where can we follow you?