Insiyah Dharsee, 15, donated 15 iPads to vulnerable youth living at Cornerstone Landing in Maple Ridge. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

VIDEO: 15-year-old donates iPads to vulnerable youth in Maple Ridge

Donation will help those living in subsidized housing at Cornerstone Landing to achieve independence

A young woman from Port Coquitlam has donated numerous iPads to at-risk youth living Maple Ridge.

Insiyah Dharsee, 15, was able to collect 15 iPads to donate to vulnerable youth living at Cornerstone Landing, a below-market rental building, subsidized by BC Housing, that is part of Community Services.

The equipment will be given to youth aged 16- to 25-years-old who were previously at risk of homelessness or previously homeless, some living with mental health issues or with substance abuse issues.

“I just want to give them something to make them feel that they are in need and …. that they are not forgotten,” she said, after dropping off the equipment at Community Services last week.

At first Dharsee wanted to purchase phones for the youth, but when she had her father ask the people at Rogers – the wireless, television, internet, and home monitoring company where he works – they said they didn’t have phones. So, Dharsee asked for iPads and was told that they would check. After two months, and much persistence from Dharsee, she finally received an email from Rogers saying that they did have iPads that they could donate and they told her to go to Metrotown to pick them up.

This is the second donation Dharsee has made to the youth living here.

Her first donation was made earlier this year after receiving a $1,500 grant from Rising Youth, which she used to purchase cutlery, plates, bowls, mugs, and other kitchen items for the youth, so they wouldn’t have to pay out of pocket when moving into the housing.

READ ALSO: 20 units for youth in new Maple Ridge housing project announced

Dharsee started making donations to the community in 2020. She first started painting rocks with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s COVID-19 pandemic message, “Be Kind, Be Calm, and Be Safe”. Dharsee began collecting donations to purchase Zaky HUGs, a device that mimics the shape, weight, scent, and warmth of the parent’s touch, and helps babies sleep and feel close to their parents even when they aren’t in the same place. Dharsee described them as a pillow-shaped hand that goes on the baby. She ended up donating 24 of them to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Royal Columbian Hospital for mothers to use after being separated from their premature babies.

Tenant liaison worker Megann Munro, noted how important the iPad donation will be for the youth in the housing.

“I think it will mean a lot. I think it will mean a lot of them can just focus on their goals. The whole point of the program is to get them in here safe and work on living independently. and a lot of them can’t access computers or tablets because it is unaffordable. So I think this will be a really great resource for them and they’ll be able to work on employment, wellness, anything they want. It will really set them up for success I think,” said Munro.

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Once a youth is accepted into Cornerstone Landing, they have to sign up for a program at Community Services and actively participate in it as they work towards their goals with tenant liaison staff. Once they reach the age of 25, they age out of the program and have to find other housing.

“We do everything that we can to support them on their journey,” said manager of fund development with Community Services, Heather Walker.

The whole point of the program is for them to be able to learn life skills, noted Munro. Life skills that they might not have been able to learn possibly in foster care “Then live independently and leave the program with the resources that they need to live successfully,” Munro added.

Walked said that when Dharsee first donated the kitchen supplies some of the young recipients were brought to tears.

“They were so surprised that a stranger, another young person, really wanted to help and was thinking about them, even though they’ld never met before.”

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