From The Windsor Star.
More than $635,000 in donations and another $50,000 of in-kind gifts is giving Windsor’s homeless youth centre a new home.
Less than three months ago, the Windsor Youth Centre needed $40,000 in three weeks as a down payment on the new property and then had a fundraising goal of half a million dollars.
“Our community once again stepped up to the plate. I mean we really have a great community of do-gooders that are willing to give and willing to help our youth,” fundraising campaign co-chair Stephanie Zekelman said Thursday.
The centre is moving to a former uniform store at 1247 Wyandotte Street East. The main donors were recognized Thursday at the Twisted Apron in Walkerville.
Zekelman and her 17-year-old daughter Samantha got involved after visiting the centre where they ordered pizza, hung out with the youth and heard their personal stories. The mother and daughter team became honorary co-chairs of the Almost Home campaign.
Windsor Youth Centre executive director Tamara Kowalska said she was amazed at how fast the money was raised.
The centre serves about 17,000 meals a year, sees an average of 50 youth a night and has outgrown its rented storefront. The centre offers laundry facilities, personal hygiene products, a safe place and specialized programs to help homeless youth.
“We needed help. We just flat out needed help,” Kowalska said.
The Stephanie and Barry Zekelman Foundation gave $100,000 for a loft art studio and program room in a garage at the new site.
The congregation of the Lincoln Road United Church continued its support with $100,000 for the main community room.
Caesars Windsor donated $35,000 for naming rights to a new kitchen, the Windsor Spitfires Foundation gave $25,000 for a program room that will offer a quiet space for counselling and small group discussions. The other $25,000 program room that will serve as a youth office with a library and computers is thanks to a donation from the Solcz family and Valiant Corporation. Betty Nixon gave $20,000 for the administrative office and volunteer room.
The fundraising campaign is still taking donations and the naming rights to an outdoor space with a community garden and outdoor patio is still available for $65,000.
The centre received an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant worth close to $150,000. In-kind donations came from Tepperman’s, Canadian Tire and Matassa Inc.
The renovations could be done by the fall.