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About Us

Who we are

The Portal is a registered non-profit charitable organization that is a resource centre for Annapolis Valley youth age 16-24 who are at risk with a special focus on those currently experiencing homelessness.



All youth in the Annapolis Valley have a safe, supportive, and a loving home.


To Reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness in the Annapolis Valley and prevent further youth from becoming homeless.


Supports We Provide 

  • Safe Space for youth

  • Outreach to youth

  • YIT from Care (12 + years)

  • Access to Essentials

  • Supportive Counselling

  • Programs to build resiliency

  • Mentoring

  • Advocacy and Access to other services

  • Connection to rapid re-housing

  • Outdoor Discovery

  • Skill Building- Community Service

  • Edge on Employment (18- 26 years)

Love & Mercy - We value the power of unconditional love and mercy in reaching youth.

Respect - We respect the worth and dignity of each person and their unique story.  

Community - We value community, believing that each individual needs and contributes to community.

Partnership - We believe that we can only achieve our mission through sincere collaboration and teamwork within the community.

Basic Rights - We believe that youth have the right to shelter, food, healthcare, education, and a sense of belonging in a safe family environment.

Youth Engagement - We value the input and partnership of youth in the seeking of solutions to community problems.


Through partnerships that increase family supports and education



Connections to community to understand available resources and community needs. We do this through Community Hubs. Click HERE to read more. 

Programming that is youth centred, simple and direct

Rapid Re-housing

Via family reunification or client centred supportive living including host homes, supervised apartments and supportive housing


Holistic approach to care using multiple services and supports and integrating this into a care plan individualized for each specific youth


The Portal Youth Outreach Association (formerly under a different name), a non-profit charitable organization, was born in 2008 following concerns raised by individuals through a series of roundtable discussions. The input from a cross section of stakeholders resulted in the identified needs of over 100 homeless individuals in the community, many in Kentville.  A great number of these were youth and young adults. Thanks goes to Valley Gate Church for caring enough to start the organization.  In 2010, at the invitation of the province, The Portal Youth Outreach Association took on the task of providing outreach support to youth at risk. Now, The Portal plays a significant role in advocating for youth and providing support for youth throughout the Annapolis Valley.


The Portal has effective partnerships with many youth serving government and non-government organizations. The Portal Youth Outreach Program has navigated over 1000 youth through the system to access support. Many faced homelessness and the risk of homelessness. The Portal receives partial funding from DCS, Prevention and Early Intervention, Child, Youth and Family Supports (DCS’ Child Welfare program).  The program has been in operation since 2012 in communities across Nova Scotia. The aim of the program is to improve the immediate and long-term social, economic, educational and health outcomes for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 facing environmental, social, and family conditions that may impact their safety, hinder their personal development and prevent their transition into adulthood as healthy and productive citizens.

Meet Our Team!


Russ Sanche

Executive Director

Russ Sanche is the Executive Director of the Portal Youth Outreach Association. Russ brings over 35 years of experience in leadership training, community transformation, and advocacy for youth.  He has worked in various cultures and nations, creating the space to help young people to face obstacles, share their stories, take charge, and give back to their community.  In Nova Scotia, through The Portal, Russ and his team, reaches out to youth that have been marginalized, exploited, homeless, stressed and challenged. They help them to navigate through the system, getting the support they need, and rise to a better life. The hope is end homelessness in the Annapolis Valley by 2028. Building collaborative networks, challenging the status quo, and working to see a compassionate community is Russ’s passion. Russ and his wife Cynthia are parents to four justice minded daughters who will likely surpass him in accomplishments for those that face injustice. 

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Glynn Johnston

Youth Outreach Worker

Glynn was born and raised in The North End of Halifax. He Started his journey working with 
Youth at Risk within My Own Voice program producing content for Dalhousie’s community campus radio, CKDU 88.1 FM. After moving to Wolfville, Glynn has worked at Landmark East School as a member of the Student Life team for a number of years. Eventually, Glynn moved on to work as a Student Support Worker With The AVRCE.  In his free time, Glynn enjoys hiking, music, and spending time with his family.

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Cindy Oldford

Housing Support Worker

Cindy was born and raised here in the Annapolis Valley and it has always been home in her heart. She
brings over 30 years of experience in working to help support others throughout a variety of roles. Cindy
began this passion overseas as an Elementary school teacher where she had the privilege of learning
about many cultures and ways of life. Since returning to the Valley, Cindy has worked in a variety of
support roles and is happy to have landed here at the Portal where she looks forward to continuing to
be there for others.

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Candy O'Brien

Life Skills Coordinator

Candy is the Life Skills Coordinator for the Kentville House SLP program for the Portal. She has lived here in the Annapolis valley for all but 10 years of her life. She has raised 3 young men who she is very proud of. Candy's passions include participating in live theatre, singing, gardening and spending as much time as she can at the beach.

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Debra Large

Housing Locator

My Name is Debra Large, I am the Housing Locator for The Portal, working in partnership with community agencies. My role is to locate suitable housing for people who are on our housing list.  I also focus on building partnerships with Landlords in Annapolis Valley which serves our community.

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