The Windsor Youth Centre (WYC) is a surrogate living room to over one hundred and fifty youth. Where else is there to go? The youth always answer, "Nowhere."
When it opened in October 2011, the WYC was the only drop-in centre for homeless and at-risk youth in Windsor-Essex . It still is.
2010: In a small coffee shop in downtown Windsor a seventeen year-old girl enters a coffee shop and asks the price of a glass of water. She is told that it is free of charge. She is welcome to drink it there, and the woman at the counter is friendly to her rather than hurrying her out or scowling as she drinks the water. The young girl's gratitude for the water and the friendly welcome embarrasses the woman behind the counter who is shocked to find out that she lives in a community that doesn't provide for the most basic needs of its most vulnerable citizens. This must change, she thinks.
Changing communities and altering lives for the better is the kind of social justice work that was taken on by a small group of Windsor-Essex citizens (Faith in Action committee of the United Church presbytery) who determined to open a drop-in centre for homeless and at-risk teens. With a $20,000 grant from the United Church, the Windsor Youth Centre opened its doors.
The greater community has since demonstrated that services for homeless and at-risk teens in Windsor-Essex are needed. Private citizens, businesses and corporations, faith and community groups and so many more have supported the WYC with funding, volunteers, in-kind donations, positive attention, and care.
The WYC community is unique but it does not stand alone. Partnerships and future possibilities have been established and future ones are in the making. Where there are youth, there is potential.