The House is a non-denominational youth centre that has dedicated the last four decades to serving the community by supporting, encouraging, and empowering youth. This is done through a variety of outlets for self-expression, recreation, creativity, and community service. The lessons and the life skills that they are gaining through our program are crucial elements on their journey to becoming independent, productive, and influential members of our community.
The House was founded in 1971 by Father John Ware, who was a priest and a clinical psychologist, when he saw the need for a youth centre. His vision was a sort of second home for the “in-between kids” – those who were too old for childish activities, but too young for all the adult responsibility. He saw that the journey from childhood to adulthood can be littered with challenges and emotional pitfalls. It occurred to him that young people needed something beyond the educational and athletic atmosphere. The House quickly became that something.
A lot has changed in our world since 1971, but the fundamental needs of youth has not. Our unique peer support system remains overwhelmingly unchanged from what was designed by the first groups of volunteer leaders over 40 years ago. The House strives to maintain an atmosphere that is welcoming of all youth, regardless of their culture, beliefs, ethnicity, or lifestyle. We run weekly peer-support meetings for youth in Grades 9-12; these meetings are geared to address issues that our youth are currently facing. These meetings provide a non-judgmental forum for youth to explore what is going on in their world, how they feel about it, and what can be done.
The Peer Mentorship Program places youth within their specific age group with groups of volunteer leaders from all different ages and stages of life. In a group setting, this span of ranging life experience provides endless opportunities for youth to find positive role models. We all want to learn from someone that we admire, but also can relate to. There are four (5) groups – grades 9, 10, 11, 12 and our Embrace (LGBTQ+ Connect) Group, that makes up our Peer Mentorship Program. As the year’s progress, more and more the youth are challenged and are expected to be more vulnerable as a way of promoting personal growth to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Story #1: Meeting virtually has its challenges, but our staff and volunteers are committed to making sure our youth members still have a full House experience! On April 26th, our Program Director Natalyn, made her way around the county making safe front porch drop-offs with goodies and supplies for students in our grade 11 peer-support group. It helped the youth be more engaged in our meetings with these interactive supplies to reinforce the importance of that meeting topic. We are so thankful to have this option to buy supplies, and be able to deliver them, thanks to the continued support of Breakaway Gaming Centre and the Charitable Gaming Association! Thank you.
Story #2: “Being a part of such an incredible community like The House has really enlightened me to the types of friends I want to keep around and relationships that are worth my time.
The House is such a supportive and welcoming environment and has really boosted my confidence and made me comfortable with who I am. It showed me that I am cared for and valued. It’s my favourite to walk into the building and hear the chorus of “hellos” from the friendly faces sitting near the entrance.
I attribute a lot of who I am as an adult to the skills and lessons I learned while being a member and then leader at The House. It truly is my home away from home.” Impact statement from Angie. She was a youth member at The House from 2008 to 2012. Following that, she was an Intern with our Activities Coordinator for the duration of 2013 and has been a volunteer leader ever since!