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Cyrus Centre Chilliwack renovations starting soon

Les Talvio, executive director of the new Cyrus Centre Chilliwack, stands outside the former Family Place on Wellington Avenue, where renovations are about to begin to transform the facility into a four-bed emergency youth shelter. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Les Talvio, executive director of the new Cyrus Centre Chilliwack, stands outside the former Family Place on Wellington Avenue, where renovations are about to begin to transform the facility into a four-bed emergency youth shelter.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Renovations are about to start on a building downtown that will eventually shelter homeless youth at Cyrus Centre Chilliwack.

"It's a really exciting time for us right now," says Cyrus Centre executive director Les Talvio. "The goal is for us to be open at the beginning of September."

They are in the midst of planning the layout and operations for a four-bed youth facility. Homeless youth, or those at risk of homelessness, will be given temporary stays in the one-storey building.

"We want people to know Cyrus Centre will be more than a youth shelter. It's going to be about restoring families whenever possible. We'll be letting the youth know about the abundance of community resources that are out there."

Despite a slightly rocky entry into the community, with controversy arising over the first location they looked at in a commercial building across the street, the Cyrus Centre project for Chilliwack is about to pick up steam.

A location has been secured and a lease agreement signed at the former Family Place location on Wellington Avenue. Officials have hired a contractor to complete some relatively minor renovations, and they take possession on July 15.

Cyrus officials determined that an emergency youth shelter was sorely needed in Chilliwack, as evidenced by the recent FVRD Homeless Count that showed a disturbingly high proportion of youth among the street population.

Volunteers with the annual survey effort counted more young people than ever out of the 77 people in Chilliwack who said they were homeless.

"That were more youth counted in Chilliwack than any of the other Fraser Valley communities," said Talvio. "So it sounds like our timing was just right."

Kids get a meal, a bed, a shower and a place to do laundry at the Cyrus Centre in Abbotsford, and they'll have similar amenities in the one they plan to open here.

Cyrus officials were first approached by local reps last year to make a "community table" presentation explaining what they do and the details of their particular model, to see if it might be appropriate for Chilliwack. Within weeks of that initial meeting with Chilliwack reps, Talvio said they were asked about the prospect of running a similar youth shelter here.

Now that dream is coming to fruition, in less than a year.

The way the Chilliwack community actively collaborates has been particularly helpful with this project, Talvio said.

Everyone on their team has been very impressed by the forces of synergy coming to help things move along in Chilliwack.

"The community really comes together and works together to provide sensible solutions."

So they're ramping up to by open this fall.

There will be four shelter beds, a multi-purpose room, offices and counselling space, showers and more.

"Now that we're getting ready to open our doors, we need the community to rally around us in support," he said.

A special skydiving fundraiser for both Cyrus Centre Chilliwack and Cyrus Centre Abbotsford called A Leap of Faith is set for July 10, explained Leah Froese, manager of the Cyrus Centre Chilliwack.

Participants will pay $750 each to jump out out of the plane, with supporters waiting below at the skydiving drop zone, located at 5112 Gladwin Road in Abbotsford. So far seven ski divers have confirmed their participation, but more are expected to join in as the word gets out.

It's the fifth year of the Leap of Faith event in Abbotsford.

"All funds raised by Chilliwack jumpers will go to the Cyrus Centre in Chilliwack. So there might be some friendly competition between the two communities over who can raise the most," said Talvio.

For more details about the event, contact leah@cyruscentre.com or leave a message at 604-795-5773. A barbecue lunch will be available by donation at the event.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

 

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