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Youth Haven gets 'incredible' boost from Kiwanis for new facility

Construction of new building has been pushed back to early 2024, but will almost double its capacity; Kiwanis donates $110,000 to project
From left are Kiwanis Foundation of Canada secretary Chuck McIlravey, Simcoe County Home Builders' Association vice-president Ryan Johnson, Simcoe County Home Builders' Association executive officer Sandy Tuckey, Youth Haven executive director Lucy Gowers, Youth Haven board chair Leslie Varsava, and Kiwanis president Tracey Craig share the news of a big donation to Youth Haven in Barrie on Friday.

It's always a good sign when the big cheque comes out. 

Youth Haven’s new emergency shelter on Wellington Street got a big financial boost in Friday and outlined details about how and when the money will be put to good use.

A cheque for $100,000 from the Kiwanis Club of Barrie was presented to Youth Haven officials on June 9 to help with the construction of its soon-to-be-built facility at 22 Wellington St., near the city's downtown.

A very happy Youth Haven executive director Lucy Gowers was all smiles as she talked about the generous donation.

“We are so excited and so honoured that the Kiwanis Club of Barrie have chosen to embark on this journey with us,” she said. “This is going to make an incredible difference in the lives of our youth. It's going to allow them to get the support that they need in order to become everything they can be.”

The cheque was for $100,000, but the full donation from the Kiwanis Foundation is $110,000, with an additional $10,000 being added late.

Youth Haven has raised just over $250,000 toward its $2-million goal.

The announcement of the new-look facility happened in September 2022 at Youth Haven’s annual general meeting. The organization's aging emergency shelter on Wellington Street will be torn down and rebuilt with a new and more structurally sound facility.

At the time, Gowers said the demolition would begin in August 2023 and construction of the new shelter will only take a month.

While plans to build the facility quickly are still in place, shovels now aren't expected in the ground until next year.

Today, Simcoe County Home Builders' Association (SCHBA) vice-president Ryan Johnson said it will only take two months, with the goal being to get the permit ready this summer from the City of Barrie.

“(We're) probably going to push the build to the spring (of 2024), for more favourable building conditions, with the goal of having them move in the summer,” he said.

The 'New Haven for Youth Haven' campaign began when Gowers called upon the SCHBA to see what upgrades could be made to the facility, which can currently house 19 young people.

The association offered to tear it down and make it better while supplying all the tools, supplies and labour for the project.  

The new building will house about 30 youths. 

There are more than 600 youth in the region who rely on the support that Youth Haven provides, the organization says. 

More information on the new build and how to help can be found here.