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YES Project moves into second fundraising phase

The Foundry is expected to open this November, offering services for youth
Prior to a media event announcing funding and structure for the YES Project at 501 Main Street driving forces behind the evolving youth focussed social services centre. Left to right, Ian Gerbrandt of OneSky Community Resources, Dr. Steve Mathias, executive director and co-founder of Foundry, Aaron McRaan, executive director of the Community Foundation South Okanagan Similkameen. (Tara Bowie/ Western News)

The YES Project has found it’s way under the umbrella of the Foundry and with that comes funding of $500,000.

Dr. Steve Mathias, executive director and co-founder of Foundry said the social services model is an initiative of the Ministry and Children and Family Development. Foundry involves 100 partnerships across the province and is focused on opening local centres in communities that offer a one-stop shop for youths aged 12 to 24 needing services.

“The idea is to bring services that already exist together and add funding for the gaps already identified,” he said.

“We’re providing $500,000 annual funding to help with those gaps, really to support predominantly mental health and health services that have historically been lacking in the community of Penticton.”

OneSky Community Resources will manage Foundry Penticton. The social services agency was the primary applicant in the Foundry competition with the Community Foundation South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS) as co-applicant. CFSOS bought 501 Martin St. earlier this year to act as a hub for youth services in the city.

Mathias said the OneSky application really drove home the need for the facility in Penticton.

“One of the things that struck us, we had an open provincial competition for Foundry and the Penticton application was really poignant. In it, it spoke to the sense of loss and grief that a lot of folks in the communities had experienced. I think we’ve all known folks that have struggled or have been lost to us,” he said.

The Foundry is expected to open this November, offering services for youth aged 12 to 24. Services will include walk-in counselling, other mental health supports, family doctor, nurse practitioner and peer-support training among other programs.

Mathias said the branding of Foundry Penticton has meaning as it’s a place where youth are found and stop falling in the cracks.

“The reason we chose Foundry is because kids didn’t want to go to a youth mental health clinic, they didn’t want to go to sexual health clinics, you know. They wanted to go to a place where they actually didn’t have to declare to anyone why they were there and that’s why the name Foundry because it’s really where they found what they were looking for,” he said.

The Community Foundation is currently in its second phase of fundraising for the YES Project. The first phase included raising $1 million to buy the building. The next phase is $1.2 million for upgrades and renovations to prepare for the Foundry Penticton to be operational. About $500,000 has been donated.

Recent donations include $25,000 from the Penticton Foundry Ltd., Area 27 fundraised $40,000 earlier this month and $10,000 just came in from a private donor.

Mathias said Foundry centres are being run in Vancouver, Campbell River, North Vancouver, Abbotsford, Victoria, Kelowna and Prince George.

“Foundry started as a concept in downtown Vancouver and quickly caught on. We had significant phlianothropic support from major donors as well as government. We all recognize young people weren’t getting the services they needed. We kept hearing it again and again young people don’t know where to go for help. There aren’t services for us,” he said.

Penticton was not successful in the first round of Foundry funding, but Aaron McRaan, executive director of the Community Foundation South Okanagan-Similkameen, said that turned out to be a good thing.

“If we had gotten the first round we wouldn’t have had this building … obviously the anchor tenant being Foundry is going to be really critical to the success of this, and the rest of the building being able to have the upstairs service providers to also be able to be collaborate with the Foundry is really great,” he said.

Ian Gerbrandt of OneSky Community Resources said receiving confirmation of the relationship with Foundry has been a catalyst for the project.

“This provides two big opportunities. First, and foremost it’s transforming access … (the) second part of the campaign is for everyone in the community to show youth matter. We’re really hoping this campaign is successful to make this dream a reality for youth and families.”