Help beacon shine: Organization brings hope to inner-city youth

Written by Laurie Mustard, courtesy of the Winnipeg Sun

Next time you drive through the intersection of Salter Street and Aberdeen Avenue, check out the building on the southwest corner. It may not show from the outside, but to young people seeking a better life, that building is a beacon of hope and opportunity, a respite from the negativity of the streets and often, from a dysfunctional, even dangerous home life as well.

Occupied by an organization called Inner City Youth Alive (ICYA), both the building and the organization are still recovering from the 2008 fire (arson) that took a third of their building and greatly impaired their capacity for helping local kids. ICYA executive director and founder Kent Dueck describes the impact of that loss, and their current progress in rebuilding:

“For close to 25 years we have had the word ‘hope’ at the centre of our mission to youth. When the fire hit we were really discouraged and deflated so it was time to apply the word hope to ourselves… it was our chance to see if it was just a word or if we could live it.”

It took a bit of time get started, but a capital campaign launched to pay for the rebuilding of the centre now has the “rebirth” only about four weeks from completion, with only about $85,000 left to raise on the $1-million budget required to fund the project.

And that brings us back to the word “hope.” Inner City Youth Alive, created by Dueck “to bring hope and a future through Christ to youth and their families in the inner city,” is hoping Winnipeggers and supporters everywhere will come through with this last chunk of cash needed to push the capital campaign over the top, allowing them to head into 2011 debt free, having turned the previous devastation “into something beautiful for the community… a Building of Hope.”

They’re offering potential donors a “bricks and mortar” opportunity for giving, which I’ll provide details on shortly. But first, a look at what your support will mean to the youth of the inner city:

  • The new building triples the drop-in size for accommodating the 460-plus youth who take advantage of ICYA programs, also greatly increasing the hours available to impact the youth and community further;
  • Enhanced capacity to plan and initiate programs, while allowing youth more access to programs and physical activities (basketball, volleyball, rock climbing), providing healthy alternatives to being on the street.
  • Expanded opportunities for staff to have increased interaction with area youth. And so much more.
To contribute, simply invest in their “Buy a Brick & Help Build a Life” initiative, details available by calling (204) 582-8779, or at www.icya.ca.

The goal is to be done fundraising by Jan. 20, 2011, the date of the “Winter/Grand Opening Party for our neighbours” celebrating the completion of the new building, “a place where kids can feel hopeful and positive about their future.”

Dueck and his ICYA Capital Campaign team are extremely grateful for the generous financial and moral support shown to date, and once again, hopeful that those of you not yet approached, or aware of their campaign, will now take the opportunity to help them complete their road to renewal. Paying it forward for 2011. Perfect way to start the new year. Let’s get it done.