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Let’s give 'A Hand Up' for volunteer Katie Slykhuis

'I love to give back to my community'
Katie Slykhuis – Assistant Director with CrossTrainers Canada: A Hand Up Clothing Room & The Hub (Youth Center) has been volunteering with the non-profit organization for 12 years. Jackie Kozak for BradfordToday

Avid volunteer Katie Slykhuis loves giving back to her community and has been volunteering with CrossTrainers Canada (Christian Ministries) in Bradford for the past 12 years. 

Slykhuis is the Assistant Director for Bradford’s The Hub (Youth Centre) and A Hand Up (Clothing Room) in association with CrossTrainers Canada, and plays a vital role in the organization of both charity-run centres. 

The facility (located at 31 Frederick Street, Bradford) is open to the public for free weekly youth programs, and offers free donated clothing to those in need through A Hand Up Clothing Room every Wednesday from 1- 3 p.m. and Friday from 6 - 8p.m.

Growing up, Slykhuis attended the youth centre and quickly became involved in the programs offered to teens, and helped out in the kitchen, preparing foods for the centre.

“I loved my Oma for teaching me all my cooking skills,” credits Slykhuis, who adds that she loves to cook and bake healthy meals. 

Slykhuis comes from a long line of volunteers within her family. From a young age, she was immersed in volunteering through her parents (Jim & Christine Slykhuis) who are very active “doers” in the community,  as well through her grandparents.

“I would often help out my Oma and Opa at the Danube Seniors Centre with events such as the garage rummage sales,” remembers Slykhuis. 

Slykhuis also helped with childcare during the women’s bible studies held at the centre, and eventually began volunteering in the clothing room where she became the Assistant Director. 

“I do a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ work now,” jokes Slykhuis. 

Slykhuis does all the scheduling, advertising, and correspondence for both The Hub and A Hand Up and is involved with donation collections, deliveries, set-ups, food preparations and above all, being a listening ear for the many clients who visit on a weekly basis.

“We get a lot of clients from the food bank and The Bradford LOFT,” describes Slykhuis. “We set up chairs six feet apart outside for those who want to hang out, and a pop-up tent if it rains.”

During COVID, the centre partnered up with the Bradford Food Bank to provide weekly free lunches to those in need, as the Bradford Community Meal was unable to continue its Friday “hot dinners” at the United Church due to the current pandemic. 

“Many local churches also stepped up with gift cards for food towards the lunches as well,” notes Slykhuis, adding that the St. John’s Presbyterian Church was a big supporter. “Little Caesars also donated all their leftover $5 specials – whole pizzas!” 

Since COVID, the centre has had to shrink back its staff but slowly they have been reopening the facilities again, allowing a limited number of clients into the building at one time, with hopes of expanding The Hub’s programs to allow more socially-distanced outdoor events. 

“I love to give back to my community,” attests Slykhuis. “I love to see it grow and to watch others give back to the community too.”

Slykhuis adds that the board has big plans coming up for A Hand Up and The Hub, as they work towards joining forces with the Bradford Food Bank and The Community Meal to be set up all in one building someday. 

“The old Bradford Public School is the proposed new building space,” shares Slykhuis. “We want to bring everything together to better serve the community – under one roof.”

To learn more about A Hand Up and The Hub, or to donate visit: