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Youth drop-in falls on hard times after just one year

Published on

Troy Shantz

The Hub could be forced to close its doors this February, less than a year after it opened.

Short on funds, the youth drop-in and resource centre operated by Sarnia-Lambton Rebound may end the one-year pilot project unless more funding is secured soon, says Rebound’s executive director.

“Of course we don’t want to see that… we’re all working together to keep the doors open,” said Carrie McEachran. “Unfortunately that is the reality that we’re facing.”

Housed in St. Luke’s United Church at the corner of Indian Road and Wellington Street, The Hub opened in February last year. It’s a drop-in centre for youth aged 16 to 24, offering life-skills training, housing leads, employment options, and mental health and addictions counselling, as well as a daily hot meal.

More than 215 youths have visited the centre a total of 3,785 times.

The initiative is supported by 36 agencies, including St. Clair Child and Youth and the United Way, and employs three fulltime workers and two more on-call.

An annual budget of $250,000 covers payroll, rent and program materials.

Initial funding came through a combination of private, county and provincial grants. However, it was discovered in December that several grants weren’t available for renewal, McEachran said.

She does have some hope a provincial Grow Grant will be approved, but won’t know until spring.

Partner organizations have offered volunteers, she said, and some of the youths attending the centre are brainstorming social enterprises that could run out of the space and generate income.

McEachran said that since word got out about the risk of The Hub closing, donations have trickled in. But she’s not clear how much has been contributed.

Dave Brown, executive director of the United Way of Sarnia Lambton, said he is monitoring The Hub’s situation closely.

Last year, United Way offered one-time funding of $30,000 for the pilot, Brown said. That was in addition to the $93,000 they provide to Rebound every year.

He said it would be “unusual” for the Hub to close down after one year, but suggested the challenge of raising money for non-profits in Sarnia is the culprit.

“It’s a very difficult fundraising environment.”

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