Youth Unlimited in Abbotsford has unveiled its new mobile drop-in centre that was created from an old fire truck.
An open house for the centre was held Saturday in the parking lot of Sevenoaks Shopping Centre.
Chris Hyslop, co-ordinator for the mobile centre, said the truck will be taken into local neighbourhoods starting in October. He said the idea is to make connections with local youth and their families, particularly for kids who might need support.
“If a kid looks for help with us, we’ll find them help. We’ll either help to provide it … or we’ll help them access services that address their needs,” Hyslop said.
Youth Unlimited previously operated a double-decker bus that visited neighbourhoods, but it was no longer operable starting in around 2007.
The organization has a drop-in centre on Emerson Street, but Hyslop said the location made it difficult for younger kids to get to.
“So if kids were struggling or making bad decisions, they wouldn’t connect with us until their later teens,” he said.
Plans for another mobile centre began in 2015, and a fire truck that was formerly used as a hazmat response unit at the Atlanta Airport provided the perfect opportunity.
Youth Unlimited purchased the vehicle at auction, and Hyslop picked it up in the spring of 2018.
Then began the long process of refurbishing the truck – at a cost of $110,000.
Numerous donations were made to the project, with major ones coming from GetAway RV, Fraserway RV, The Hope and Potential Foundation, the Onesimus Foundation and the Abbotsford Community Foundation.
Several other individuals and businesses also contributed time and material – too many to mention, Hyslop said.
The two-storey mobile centre now includes areas for playing video and board games or just hanging out, and is equipped with sports equipment and WiFi.
Youth Unlimited is faith-based, and Hyslop said staff are willing to talk about spirituality if a youth wants to, but they don’t push religion.
Volunteer training is now underway, and the plan is to visit Abbotsford neighbourhoods twice a week and Chilliwack once a week starting in October.
Visit youthunlimited.com, call 604-852-2725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.