By Leah Scheitel
Special to the Pioneer
The Summit Youth Centre, an organization dedicated to helping youth in the Columbia Valley, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this May. Started in 1994, the group is hoping that former youth participants, workers and board members will help in the celebration of its silver anniversary.
The fundraising party is set for Saturday, May 4th, where they will host their annual “Local Celebrity” evening dinner. This year the guest of honour is Debra Fisher. Sherry Doerr, chair of the board for the Summit Youth Centre, comments she is a very worthy guest of honour.
“Twenty years she has spent as an Aboriginal youth worker with the high school in collaboration. On top of that, she was often a foster parent before, with 35 kids and I know hundreds more who she has counselled,” said Ms. Doerr. “She is extraordinary.”
The Youth Centre has also invited Tom Jackson to come and speak at the event and help in the celebrations.
For the past quarter of a century, the Summit Youth Centre has kept its focus on local youth, a goal they will carry with them into the future. Kelsey Prichard, centre director, says they offer multiple resources and programs for the kids, including music lessons, cooking classes, meal preparation, budgeting, job search help, interview preparation, and even drone racing. They also have social awareness programs, such as Box City, to teach the youth about homelessness. Along with planning programming that will be beneficial for the youth, they also try to listen to what the youth would like to learn about and what they feel they need at the moment.
“Some of the youth are recognizing the importance of mental health and want to learn a little bit more of that so that is what we are moving into and what we are focusing on for the end of this school year and for the rest of next school year,” explained Ms. Prichard, saying the training will cover healthy sleeping habits, Naloxone training for emergency intervention and overall mental health and wellness.
As board chair, Sherry Doerr said listening to the youth has always been one of the goals for the organization, at least since she has been involved since November 2010.
“We maintain our focus on the youth and what we think they need. Sometimes it’s what we think they need and other times they come to us and tell us what they need instead and that is what is most important – listening to what their needs are,” she said. “The youth are trying to be proactive so that they have a safe place. That is probably the most important part of the whole thing is that when youth come to the youth centre, it’s a safe place. A place where they can be themselves and not judged.”
Ms. Doerr is very hopeful that many of the participants over the past 25 years will come to the May 4th celebration.
“I really hope that we can get some of our former people behind us and we can get a very good response to our event,” she said.
Tickets for the fundraiser celebration, which starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 4th, are $40 and are available at Home Hardware, AG Valley Foods, Selkirk Cellular and at the Summit Youth Centre. More information can be found at the Summit Youth Centre’s website, www.Invermeresummityouthcentre.org.
Summer brown bags
The Summit Youth Centre, in collaboration with the Columbia Valley Food Bank, is launching a summer brown bag lunch program. Youth will be collecting snacks through snack drives from now until the end of June. Youth will deliver to food-insecure households from Brisco to Canal Flats through the summer. This outreach campaign by the youth will include collecting, sorting, and delivering snacks at a central drop point in each community. Phone or email Summit if you want to help. Ms. Prichard, who also works at the food bank, says there are currently 269 children and youth (aged 0-18) registered with the local food bank.