Meet the Skid Row CEO

Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts is an expert on resiliency and change. In 1989, he was homeless living under a bridge. Twelve years later he was a celebrated CEO and in 2017 he finished a 9,064 kilometre charity walk across Canada to bring attention to youth homelessness. Joe will be speaking at Roughing It.

Learn more

In Nanaimo, committed supporters are Roughing It to raise critical funds and awareness for young people experiencing homelessness.

Roughing It is a one-night event where community members sleep outside to raise money for youth who are homeless or facing homelessness. In Nanaimo, every night about 100 youth don’t have a bed of their own. Roughing It is not about pretending to be homeless — it is about showing support for youth who are homeless, about feeling a little of what it’s like to not have a bed to sleep in; and it’s about using the experience to raise awareness and money to help young people overcome their housing challenges. 

All participants will meet at Harewood Centennial Park at 6:00 pm on September 23rd. They will have a meal together, hear from youth with lived experience and from the Skid Row CEO, Joe Roberts, a motivational speaker whose life went from addiction in Vancouver’s East Side to running a successful software startup. Joe walked across Canada in 2017 to bring awareness to the issue of youth homelessness and raised more than $1 million for the cause.

Over the course of the evening, participants will get a chance to bid on silent auction items, visit with one another about youth homelessness and take part in other activities. Each person should bring a sleeping bag, warm clothes and water. The site will be secured but everyone is cautioned that there will not be anywhere to lock up personal items overnight.

A light breakfast will be available in the morning before the event wraps up.


Expected Participants

Event Countdown








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In Nanaimo, 100 youth are homeless tonight

make a difference

Courageous members of our community come together to honour and support young people who have nowhere else to turn. By raising funds to support these youth and by spreading awareness about the struggles they face, individuals, families, friends and co-workers show us never to underestimate the power of giving.

Young people on Nanaimo’s streets have often fled abusive and unsafe situations. Being homeless was not a choice they made, but a circumstance they found themselves in. Scared, hungry, and alone, they end up on the street only to be re-victimized and vulnerable to the dangers that accompany homelessness.

Join a community of dedicated individuals and teams and give up your bed for one night to support young people facing homelessness. Sign up to Rough It or make a donation and be part of changing the lives of youth in Nanaimo.

Contact the Roughing It Team if you would like more information about how you can get involved.

Plan to attend: September 23, 2022 at 6:00 pm

Please give your support to the people and organizations that supported Roughing It! They include the following:

Spice of Life Catering
Canadian Tire
Daybreak Rotary
Country Grocer

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NYSA acknowledges our work takes place on Coast Salish territories and primarily the lands of the Snuneymuxw people.