Helen Hughes and the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society

“Souper Bowls” explains this year’s event chair Michele Davis, “is an iconic event that’s been running eighteen years.

“This is actually our nineteenth event. It originated with Helen Hughes…”

Helen Hughes has devoted her life to public service.

She was elected to Victoria City Council in 1990, and served for eighteen years.

Hughes remembers her time on council well. “Each councillor had a neighbourhood [of Victoria], and so, my neighborhood was the downtown.”

There were complaints about youth hanging out at all hours.

Hughes explained that the police would come to her, saying “we don’t know what to do, because there isn’t anything for us to send them to.”

She knew they needed programs – a place to go – and she also knew that took money. And so, Hughes founded the Souper Bowls of Hope.

“She is a dynamo” says Davis. “You know, she’s single handedly put this event together!”

And what is Souper Bowls of Hope?

“It’s a lunchtime event” says Davis. “You come, you eat soup, have fun, and you get to take home a hand-crafted bowl.”

Over the past eighteen years, Souper Bowls of Hope has raised more than $950-thousand dollars!

When told that total, Hughes exclaimed with a wide smile, “well, this year will be over a million then!”

That money helped creat the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society – YES for short – which supports at-risk youth, and their families.

The Society’s Julie-Ann Hunter explains that “a lot of them are in a different variety of situations.

“What ties them together is there’s usually a crisis going on.

“So it may be that they’re homeless, that they’re on the streets, maybe there’s been a family breakdown, maybe there’s been some mental health [challenges], or they’re stuggling with addiction.”

And Hunter also stresses that “the funds from Souper Bowls really helps support those pieces of the programs that we do.

“Without it we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Hughes deflects the praise from herself, saying the success of the iconic event is thanks to everyone involved.

“Well, it’s because people come forward, they attend the event, and then those who do the actual work of getting it together.

“Those are the people we should be thanking.”

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