More than 75 people of all ages came out to celebrate the grand opening of The Hub, a drop-in centre for youth aged 16-24 created by Sarnia-Lambton Rebound and 36 community partners.
The Hub was designed to help youth access services such as Ontario Works and mental health and addictions support, and amenities such as a room to relax, Wi-Fi, a daily hot meal, laundry facilities and a shower.
Opened since February, The Hub has had almost 800 youth visits. Of those, 261 accessed Hub programming, 62 received referrals to other community agencies, and 700 dinners have been served.
“It fills me with joy that there is finally a space in Sarnia where young people can come together and actually feel a part of the fabric that is Sarnia,” said Darryn Johnston, who has been visiting The Hub for two months.
The Hub is located within St. Luke’s Church at 350 Indian Rd South, directly across from Sarnia-Lambton Rebound.
St. Luke’s is “thrilled” to be hosting the Hub, said Reverend Melanie Kirk of St. Luke’s United Church.
“This is how we want to serve our community,” said Kirk. “We are excited to be part of something amazing.”
Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey was on hand to formally announce a $63,500 Ontario Trillium Grant that will help cover The Hub’s operating cost.
The Hub is a community project that will be looked to as a model for support services, said Bailey. “This is a ground breaking operation they’re doing here in Sarnia-Lambton; maybe a pilot project for the rest of Ontario, said Bailey. “When I get back to Queen’s Park I’m going to make sure I tell my caucus, Premier Wynne, and the rest of the people what’s going on in Sarnia-Lambton.”
Moving forward, The Hub hopes to expand and offer supportive housing, said Michelle Shelswell, an original member of The Hub’s working committee.
The Hub was designed on a “youth engagement philosophy,” said
Jonathan Lawrence, a youth advisor at Rebound involved in The Hub project, in an October 2016 interview with the Lambton Shield.
“We wanted the youth to be involved in every single part of the process,” Lawrence said.
The Hub is open Monday to Friday from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. For more information contact Program Coordinator Jaylene Poirier, at 519-491-5579, or email firstname.lastname@example.org