The Why Not Youth Centre is preparing to celebrate their 20th year in Brantford with the launch of new programs to support young people in need.
The organization recently launched their first ever youth housing program in the city after roughly a year of planning and renovating.
Susan Zuidema, Executive Director of the Why Not Youth Centre, said she was thrilled when the opportunity came up for the Centre to take on this new project.
“There is definitely a housing crisis happening right now in Brantford,” she said. “For us to be able to provide this program for young people in our community is a huge first step towards breaking the cycle of poverty.”
The project, which launched earlier this month, houses four young men that have been involved in the Why Not Centre for a number of years.
“We hope that this pilot project will be a launchpad for these young people, to provide them with the support they need to be successful in their lives,” Zuidema said. “The whole idea is to take away the stress of not knowing where they are going to stay. By taking away those worries, they can focus on finishing their schooling and finding a good path for their next steps into adulthood.”
In addition to the new youth housing program, the Why Not Centre is working on launching a pregnancy support house in Brantford in the new year.
“We see a lot of teen moms come through the Why Not Centre and a lot of those babies are born into a cycle of addiction, abuse and trauma,” Zuidema said. “It is really important to try to break that cycle by providing support through this new project, which will be the first within the Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations area.”
The nearest organizations that provide similar housing services are located in Guelph, Cambridge and St. Thomas but Zuidema said that it is important to get these resources into a more accessible location for expecting young mothers in the area.
As the end of the year quickly approaches, Zuidema reflected on the support that the organization has received over the last 12 months, making these new initiatives possible.
“We absolutely couldn’t do what we do without the generosity of our community members,” she said. “From our amazing volunteers that spend hours of their time helping out, to every individual, business and community group that donates food, money, clothes and more, this place truly belongs to the community and I think that they can feel that.”
In fact, the Why Not Youth Centre received so much support from the community that they are paying it forward to other local groups in need throughout the holiday season.
“We have been so blessed for Christmas this year that we were able to fill the wishlists from other organizations that aren’t quite as well known as the Why Not,” Zuidema said. “We really love to be able to bless others, especially organizations with similar missions to ours.”
The Why Not Youth Centre first opened in 2002 as a safe space for individuals aged 13-18 in the Brantford community to gather and find support. It has grown immensely throughout the years and provides youths with clothing, meals, laundry facilities, homework assistance and so much more. To learn more about the organization, visit https://whynotyouthcentres.com/.