A popular drop-in centre for at-risk youth still has financial challenges but will keep its doors open into 2019.
That’s because RBC has donated $99,000 over two years to help users of The Hub create a social enterprise, one that can raise even more money.
“The youth at The Hub are torn between a few ideas for their social enterprise and are working with the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation to find something that will work well,” said Carrie McEachran, executive director of Rebound Sarnia-Lambton, which operates The Hub.
Hundreds of youth aged 16 to 24 access The Hub each month to get food, learn life skills, and meet basic needs such as showering and laundry.
The numbers that rely on the drop-in centre are surprising, said McEachran. She estimates it costs $220,000 annually to operate, and that’s with slightly abbreviated hours.
The Hub opened in February of 2017 at St. Luke’s United Church on the corner of Indian and Wellington roads. Less than a year later, it was in financial trouble.
Provincial and federal funding has been tough to secure, although McEachran said her staff continue to apply for grants.
In January 2018, a call went out to the community for help. Without donations, The Hub would have closed.
Luckily, its value to Sarnia’s young people had become apparent and businesses and individuals have been very generous, McEachran said.
Enbridge Gas stepped up with $10,000, Lambton County council agreed to provide $75,000, and McDonald’s restaurants raised more than $24,000 during McHappy Days.
But more was needed. RBC’s donation ensures funding well into 2019, and in the best-case scenario the youth enterprise will generate even more operating dollars, she said.
“We are so much more than a drop-in centre. Sarnia doesn’t realize this city has a problem with youth not having housing.”
To help those living on street or couch surf The Hub provides one hot meal a day, clothing, and a food bank.
Just as critical is its referral system to 34 other social agencies, including St. Clair Child & Youth and the Children’s Aid Society. Counselling is possible, and hope is offered.
Since opening last year, The Hub has helped 46 youth find stable education or employment, and another 38 secured stable housing.
An average of 25 to 35 youth a day visit The Hub between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
RBC made the $99,000 donation in November at the grand opening of its newest Sarnia branch on Lambton Mall Road.
The funding comes from the Royal Bank of Canada’s Future Launch program, which helps young people prepare for the workplace.
A TYPICAL MONTH AT THE HUB (NOVEMBER 2018)
The Hub provided:
* help for 350 individuals;
* more than 500 meals;
* 25 used laundry services;
* 21 took a shower;
* 114 used the emergency food bank; and
* 40 accessed outside services like The Haven, Goodwill, CLAS and Sarnia Police.