The Windsor Youth Centre, a drop-in centre for homeless youth located on Wyandotte Street East is in danger of closing in the new year if it can not raise the needed funds to keep operations alive.
Six nights a week, the centre serves home-cooked meals, offers laundry, toiletries, and a warm welcome to over 100 youth in the community. Youth who drop into the center come to play board games, learn about gardening, get free hair cuts or bike repair, have help with homework and job searches or just sit quietly over a cup of coffee.
Tamara Kowalska, founding member and Chair of the Board thinks it’s remarkable that before the WYC opened last fall, there was no place at all for at-risk youth to have their most basic needs met. Windsor holds the record for the highest unemployment rate nationwide, and yet its services for struggling kids are almost non-existent compared to other cities such as London or Toronto where it’s easier to find work. That’s why she and husband George Bozanich teamed up with a small group from the United Church to open the WYC. “The truth is that kids all throughout Windsor have no food and no safe place to sleep. It’s unnecessary. We can change that,” Kowalska says.
Having just celebrated its first anniversary, the centre has two qualified staff and over forty volunteers that serve up over 1000 meals per month as well provide what kids would normally get from a stable home. With no core funding, they say that their bank account is running dry.
“The youth give thanks before every meal. Nine times out of ten, they start with, ‘Thank you for the WYC and the people who are here.’ When a 16 year old kid thanks you for just being there for them, you can’t bear to imagine what will happen if you’re not there anymore,” Kowalska says.
Upcoming fundraising events include an art show at the MILK Coffee Bar downtown November 3rd to 17th, a book launch at Biblioasis on November 13th, and the premiere of their new documentary titled What is Home at the Capitol Theatre on November 17th at 8:15pm.