By Madison Perdue

Fernie Youth Services supports at-risk youth on their journey away from conflict with the law toward purposeful adulthood. We provide reliable housing, community reintegration and employment readiness to help young people become contributing members of the community.

Fernie launched an employment program for young men on the cusp of entering the workforce in May 2013. We provide one-on-one career support and guidance from experienced youth workers, access to certification courses, paid employment and working experience through the lawn care social enterprise Fernie Works Lawn Care Service.

The social enterprise provides professional and affordable lawn care services such as cutting, debris removal, trimming and seasonal cleanups to residential and corporate customers. We do our best to accept all requests for service between Scarborough and Ajax and give preference to our neighbours in the Centennial and West Rouge communities.

At-risk youth between the ages of 16-24 can participate in the Fernie Works employment program. Our participants come to us from other Fernie programs like our Transition House or from our partners like Children’s Aid Society or local high schools.

Youth can also apply by emailing our program coordinator. Every young person in the program has identified barriers keeping them from succeeding in their careers. Participants may have a history of conflict with the law, be part of a minority group or low-income home. We do everything in our power to accept each application and help eager young people learn the necessary skills to succeed.

The young workers prepare for their careers and build professional skills in the program that can lead directly to new jobs or education. Last year every participant graduated from the program early to start full-time employment or post-secondary school. A successful graduate shared, “Fernie Works allows us to gain confidence and trust with other workers, staff, customers and the equipment.”

With minimal marketing, we had a full schedule for our youth to practice their landscaping and customer care skills this summer. We had many new customers coming from our neighbourhood that let our staff and participants happily beautify our own community.

As the summer wraps up, our schedule is open for fall cleanup requests and inquiries for next year. Go to or call us at 416-312-7521.

Madison Perdue is Resource Development Coordinator at Fernie Youth Services.