After 22 years at the same location, Altona Youth For Christ will be moving to a new location.
Partnering with Friesens Corporation, YFC will be moving to the former box plant building at the corner of 6th Street SE and 2nd Avenue SE. Executive Director Sheridan Sawatzky says while their current location just south of the fire hall on 1st Street NW has served them well, more space was needed.
“It's been a fantastic building for us. The town has provided it to us, so more of what we raised financially every year goes toward directly impacting the youth of our community, but it really is limited. We have about 1,200 square feet of actual programming space in our existing facility. Our new space will be over 7,600 square feet. We're making a bit of an upgrade you could say.”
Sawatzky says the new space will allow YFC to continue its core drop-in program and much more.
One of YFC’s latest programs is the Maker Space, essentially a workshop, a creative outlet for teens to learn valuable skills, possibly leading to job opportunities. Sawatzky says the current location was limiting YFC’s goal for the program. The Maker Space program gives teens the opportunity to develop and practice skills such as wood working, 3D design, digital arts, music, programming and much more. This program not only provides a creative outlet, but could also develop into future career opportunities for many youth. A key value of all our programs is accessibility.
“If there's a youth who is just curious, wanting to check it out, they can come on drop-in night with their friends and hang out. But if someone is working on something with robotics or the 3D printer or laser cutter, they're free to go and explore that, and see what people are up to. There's no pressure to partake in what we're doing. But they can freely kind of check things out.”
A project five months in the making, Sawatzky says a committee has been established, a budget has been set and fundraising should start soon.
“We are proud to support YFC Altona in this expansion and in their work to offer a positive outlet for youth in the community,” says Chad Friesen, CEO of Friesens Corporation. “We are also excited about the Maker Space, and the opportunity for young people to gain exposure to the tools and skills businesses will be hiring for in the future. This initiative is a win-win-win-win for YFC, for the community, for local businesses, and most importantly for our young people. We encourage the entire community to get behind this initiative.”
“In our existing building, if we were going to set up our Maker Space in the basement, which is what we were doing, that already is a limitation to any youth that may have mobility issues. In our new space, we are making a large investment to ensure that the main floor, the mezzanine, every area where programming is happening, that everyone can access it.”
Sawatzky also notes that the new location’s proximity to the high school will allow YFC to offer programming for students during lunch hour, spares and after school. The budget for transforming the warehouse into a drop-in/workshop space has been set at $395,000. According to Sawatzky they have a targeted completion/move-in date of December 2021.