In 1983 Rick was living in his beloved Atlantic Canada, with no intention of leaving. Yet, because of YSM’s persistent leadership, Rick agreed to move to Toronto and join the team as Director of the Evergreen Centre. Just two years later, Rick began to re-focus Evergreen to address the needs of the street-involved youth he encountered who spent their nights sleeping in Evergreen’s entry-way. The youth longed for community, a sense of family and a church where they would feel connected and cared for. So, in 1987, Rick began working with local churches, resulting in establishment of Church on the Street, now known as our Church at the Mission.
Rick’s innovative work led to him being invited to become YSM’s CEO in 1989, a position he held for 24 years. In that role Rick led the charge to raise funds, develop YSM’s property and start many of our staple programs. Under his guidance, YSM saw the creation of the Evergreen Health Centre, the original iteration of our Community Development team, and the evolution of our 310 Centre to launch YSM’s Double Take thrift store and Computer Centre. Rick’s team redeveloped The Davis Centre and raised funds to purchase and develop our current administrative centre, The Martin Centre, to act as a community meeting, management and educational centre. Rick also developed the first Evergreen employment program, Hal’s Coffee and Muffin Shop, where youth could gain valuable skills.
In 2013 Rick stepped down as CEO, to become YSM’s Community Advocate. In addition to teaching at Tyndale Seminary, Rick continued to represent YSM by speaking publicly on topics such as poverty in Canada, urban ministry, at-risk youth and strategies for community-wide change.
Throughout his time as CEO of YSM, Rick poured his heart into his work, witnessing YSM grow from 50 to about 120 staff while responding to huge shifts in needs among the community. During his tenure, YSM embraced an internal culture shift, focusing on a more inclusive, barrier-free mission to ensure anyone needing services felt like this was a place where they belonged. For those who may have been fearful to enter a Christian mission, this culture shift meant a greater diversity in staff, who modeled their values and faith through action and compassion. These shifts catered to all the needs of the individuals seeking help, and were the foundation of YSM’s wrap-around care model.
Rick requested that any retirement celebration in his honour should positively impact YSM. To fulfill that vision we created an endowment fund – The Grace and Goodness Trust – to underwrite YSM’s annual operating expenses.
Rick, for all you have done at YSM, and all you continue to do to help those around you, we truly thank you.