The Woolwich Youth Centre is back up and running under new guidance following a brief closure at the beginning of the year.
New to the centre are Brandon Reoch, youth worker, and Fad Akbar, youth coordinator.
“When first stepping into this place, you can really feel that this place is awesome,” said Akbar. “The response has been very good.
“They get to see new places, new designs, new structure of the whole place – so they get a new vibe. We are getting new people, too, so that’s a good sign.”
Having been there for nearly a month under new direction, the two have fresh ideas for the place, including providing youth with a platform to showcase their talent, documentary screenings and roundtables where participants can focus on communication skills.
Although the youth centre has always been focused on providing a safe and fun environment to enrich youths’ lives, organizers now hope to take that to the next level by finding people who are not only interested in volunteering with local youth but also serving as mentors. That could be someone who is interested in sharing their love for music, art, sport or whatever that passion may be – whatever the case, the youth centre is interested.
“Someone that’s willing to share their talents, willing to mentor. We need people who are professional and patient to help nurture these kids,” said Akbar.
“Previously we have had musicians who come in once a week and teach them to pay guitar or anything like that. If anyone out there has something they may want to teach the youth they can contact Fad or I and we can discuss how that would work out,” explained Tina Reed, coordinator of community support with Woolwich Community Services, who administers the youth centre.
Getting involved is simple, says Reed.
“They contact our office or they can drop by and pick up an application,” she said, noting the address as 5 Memorial Ave., Elmira. “If they are a good fit for what we need then they become volunteers.”
“They must be over 19, so they cannot be the age of the youth – we want older,” she added.
In addition to staff support, the centre itself is always looking for community donations. That comes with running a low user-cost establishment that gets some funding from the township but relies on fundraising efforts in large part. The latter includes a silent auction at the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, a youth barbeque at the downtown sidewalk sale and a commitment of donations from a local business. Although they are grateful for the support, it can be expensive to run a safe, supervised and fun youth centre for kids from Grade 6 to 19 years of age, she notes.
Paying it forward themselves, the youth also do some volunteering of their own providing help with the seniors centre meals as well as volunteering at WCS’ “community can dine” program at Trinity United Church.
“We think it’s important for the youth to know what the services are offered within the community and that their help is needed too,” said Reed. “Even though they are young, they can go and help too.”