Locals hopped on a Gibraltar Mine bus earlier this month and toured some of the non-profit organizations that benefit from the Williams Lake Community Fund.
Melissa Newberry, United Way Community Associate for the Cariboo, organized the “Seeing is Believing” tours to offer donors, volunteers and community members an opportunity to see first-hand where United Way’s money goes to work in the community.
“Participants are able to visit community agencies and hear directly from agency staff and clients about the difference United Way and community partners can make in the lives of individuals in our community,” Newberry said.
On Nov. 14, during a tour of the Boys and Girls Club, executive director Matt Neufeld showed about a dozen people the centre.
“We promote youth-initiated recreation and serve dinner around 6 p.m. Monday to Friday,” Neufeld said, adding the kids help make meals and around 500 meals are served each month. The centre sees on average 15 to 30 kids a day.
There are two transition school programs — one geared to elementary and one for secondary.
“It’s for students trying to get back into alternative programs like Skyline or Grow,” Neufeld said.
The centre runs an after-school program out of GROW at Marie Sharpe elementary school from 3 to 5:30 p.m. for seven to 12 year olds.
“Here we are strictly for youth, ages 13 to 18,” Neufeld said. “It’s open to anyone, but we tend to service more at-risk youth here.”
A Keystone youth leadership program runs once a week, and year round the centre offers its Glass Slipper program to outfit students who cannot afford the purchase items.
“It’s especially busy around grad,” Neufeld said of the Glass Slipper program.
Through an outreach program, three workers have contact with youth who may not connect with the centre but who need to be referred to other resources in the community.
“It’s a hidden part of our programming that not too many people know about.”
Twenty-four people are on staff, including a harm-reduction worker, front-line workers, program youth centre supervisor, an independent living co-ordinator, and school co-ordinator.
“I think we’re a lot bigger than people realize,” Neufeld said.
Leading the group through the centre, Neufeld showed a shower room and laundry facilities, as well as a bike shop with a place for bike repair.
In summer the centre leads group bike rides, in the winter it’s cross-country skiing and skating.
“We have a van and can transport up to 12 people,” he added.
Newberry arranged for tours on Nov. 6 and Nov. 14. Aside from the Boys and Girls Club, the group visited the Salvation Army, Hospice Society and the Community Garden.
“I hope to give more tours in the new year,” she said.