Photo: courtesy of 5th on 5th Youth Services
The Lethbridge Youth Foundation and 5th on 5th Youth Services have been in the forefront of people’s minds a lot the past couple years as they have advocated to the Provincial Government for stable youth employment funding.
“The 2016 Campaign theme, Bringing People Together, reflects the new way 5th on 5th Youth Services is doing business with new partners and new programs at our location,” says Executive Director Gail McKenzie. “This year’s campaign goal is $30,000, which we will use to match other funding opportunities we have identified.”
“The organization is now on a solid path to recovery after the loss of some programming over the past two years,” McKenzie says. “However, with new partners, and a new business focus, we continue to offer important programs in the community. We also continue to advocate for a Youth Employment Strategy with the Provincial Government. The recent announcement of the return of the STEP program is a good first step in a new direction.”
As well, McKenzie says the services that are continuing are making a big impact on the community. “Our Forward Life Impact program has prepared more than 60 young adults for the work world over the past six months. The Reach Up program is assisting 40 individuals with disabilities focus on their strengths and how they can contribute to the local workforce. Finally, the Work Experience program places approximately 50 youth per year in positions that help them begin their careers. We partner with great businesses in the community for all these job placements.”
“We are also extremely proud of a new program funded in part by Community Foundations of Canada, which was obtained through efforts made by our local partner, the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta,” McKenzie says. “In partnership with Career Transitions, this year we will be able to help up to 25 high school students at risk of dropping out and 100 teens, or young adults who are not in school, develop a career path and/or get their education back on track.”
Behind the scenes, the volunteer-governed organization—officially the Lethbridge Youth Foundation that operates 5th on 5th Youth Services—has evolved with the changing times and restructured to become more project-based while continuing to meet the needs of young people in the community.
“We are using our building, which we own, to help realize our mission by being strategic and renting space to other organizations that help youth in the City,” says Board President Joanna Kappel. “Reeves College enrolls more than 100 students per year and has been located with us since 2008. Ability Resource Centre supports over 120 individuals with disabilities throughout the city. At our location, the LIFE service supports young adults with disabilities develop a high level of independence, preparation for employment or post-secondary education. This year, we welcomed McMan Youth, Family, and Community Service Association to our space. They provide services to at-risk youth, are part of the Housing First initiative, work with individuals with FASD, and operate their Post-Release program.”
Joanna adds, “Their commitment to making a difference in the community is a great fit with what we are working to accomplish. We are grateful to local manufacturer Kawneer which, through the Alcoa Foundation, provided a $10,000 grant and volunteer labour, under Dash Enterprise expert supervision, to make our co-habitation a reality with a small renovation of our upper level.”
The campaign closes with A Taste of Lethbridge, an appreciation event for all donors at the $125 level and higher to be held on Saturday, April 9, 2016. To date, the Investing in Youth campaign has raised more than $600,000 for projects supporting young people.
This year’s gala is hosted by Exhibition Park, an organization well known in the community for bringing people together for nearly 120 years. As one of the oldest Agricultural Societies in Alberta, the facility often bursts at the seams with visitors who attend an estimated 1,000 events per year.
On the menu for the gala: unique food items and refreshments from an array of Lethbridge’s finest restaurants, a chance to win prizes, a 50/50 draw, live entertainment, and an exciting silent auction with specialty items from around the community.
Established in 1994, the Lethbridge Youth Foundation will celebrate serving the community for 22 years this summer as a not-for-profit, charitable organization that operates 5th on 5th Youth Services. It is dedicated to supporting youth, through programs and services in becoming responsible, capable, caring individuals by providing opportunities to pursue goals in academic development, career development, social development, and employment.