Thanks to a group of caring individuals, our prayers have been answered.
Finally, a one-stop shop youth outreach centre is available in the Okanagan, right in Penticton at 501 Main Street.
Many families have been waiting a long time for such a facility, especially parents at their wits end worrying about their vulnerable children.
Foundry Penticton’s focus is reaching young people before their small problems become big ones. And we’ve all seen how quickly that can happen.
Reading the news lately is one big downer after the other, discovering how more youth are falling through the cracks. For example, the sad story of 16-year-old “Eli” Beauregard from Kelowna who died of stab wounds after an altercation on the street.
His father can only hope that the incident serves as a warning to other kids about the dangers of street life. His dad said a lot of teens today are looking for freedom, and the street certainly offers that, but it also offers danger.
He told Global News that the street might be a fun place to go, but that could change in a few seconds if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Eli frequently stayed in a youth shelter and told his dad that everything was good; he was happy. But his world ended when someone stabbed him during a conflict.
Sadly, Eli’s story is not uncommon, which is why opening another outreach facility is so important.
Foundry Penticton initially offers walk-in primary care and counselling, peer support, mental health services, housing and employment support, legal advocacy and substance-use counselling. This fall more services will be added, including a sexual health clinic, income assistance and access to opioid therapy.
Taxpayers often complain about the cost of government programs, but Foundry Penticton is worth every penny — $1.2 million. If it gets at least one kid off the street or prevents an overdose, it will make all the difference.
Youth advisor Husain Sattar says nobody is immune to these problems because everyone knows someone who is struggling. He’s right when he says there’s no greater investment a community can make than to give youth a home, noting that Foundry will be life changing from some of the youth who walk through that door.
Parent advisor Terry McKinlay said families need quick access to care to avoid wait lists. The truth is families don’t have a lot of time to navigate services to secure help for vulnerable kids.
It was recently unsettling to hear local Judge Greg Koturbash admit that Canada’s mental health system is in crisis. He referred to the de-institutionalization of men and women who were freed from mental hospitals, only to end up on the street or warehoused in correctional centres. In turn, these jails have become mental health facilities that are not equipped to deal with these people.
Unfortunately, our mental health services are overburdened and stretched to the limits, widening the cracks that people fall through. Hence, all of the horrid acts we see brazenly being committed on our streets.
But Foundry is a step in the right direction; a lifeline that so many youth need today.