A local drop-in program for youth 12 to 20 years old is planning to go bigger and better come November.
The Drop Parry Sound is getting ready to move from its spot in Mary St. Centre to a new building on James Street in the next two months.
Colleen McLean, Chair of The Drop’s Board of Directors and head of Volunteer Engagement, says the program is aiming to officially re-open the new location on November 1st.
“As we have always found in this community, there are lots of offers of support with trucks and helping hands to help set up and move so it’s been great. [The Drop] runs on the generosity of donors. We were fortunate enough last year to receive one grant from the LEAF Commonwell, but otherwise, it’s through local support of individuals and businesses,” McLean says.
She says, as a result, the program launched a fundraiser campaign to help cover the costs of the move and maintain The Drop’s ability to meet the needs of the community members who use it.
“We have currently set a goal to raise $30,000 and have a new donation option as well. We set up an online donation platform so people can give monthly as well instead of a one-time donation, so [we are] hoping $25, $50, or $200 a month might be within someone’s capacity or a family, group of colleagues, or a business, to help contribute,” she says. According to McLean, the program started fundraising this September 2nd and in less than a week has already raised $3,000 so far.
She explains the move comes after the program started to find that the space they have right now is great for small numbers, but can very quickly become loud and crowded with conversations, games, and activities.
“We often find folks needing a little bit of a quieter spacing and more room to spread out and we also want a space that really feels completely inclusive to everyone and so we decided to move to an independent location,” McLean says.
According to her, The Drop has been renting the space at the church but wants to be able to offer more and welcome more youth. McLean adds the donations from the fund-raising will help cover rent, as well as aid in The Drop’s ability to keep providing a completely free program.
According to its website, The Drop offers a safe, inclusive, welcoming, non-denominational, space for young people to spend time with friends, play games, grab some food, use free Wifi, and connect with others.
“So whether that’s meals, snacks that people are looking for, program supplies, particular outings, it’s free to anyone who wants to come. So we try to make it as inclusive and open as possible for that,” she says.
McLean says the new space is significantly more expensive than the Mary St location, adding that there was a lot of discussion with the program’s board about what that would look like and how they can make that work. “And we all felt it was really necessary to be able to meet the demands of the program and offer a bigger space,” she says.
The program has been at the church location since its launch about a year ago. When it first started out, McLean says they probably had maybe 4 to 6 people who came regularly, adding that number would get closer to 16 to 18 people at their peak. The new building, she says, can fit around 50 people comfortably at least, with two levels, more open space, separate rooms, and a large basement as well.
“I think just the importance of [having] a space in town that really celebrates and nurtures youth and one of our goals is to be the central network piece for them to bring other local organizations, educational events, and help youth grow their own support system within the town with some amazing community organizations and individuals that are around to help support as much as we can,” McLean says.
Anyone interested in donating can go to the program’s website at www.thedropparrysound.com and donate directly there. Anyone interested in donating some food vouchers or furniture for the new space can email them as well, at [email protected]