City of Grande Prairie council presented a ceremonial check to Sunrise House Executive director Tanya Wald at city hall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The city contributed over $900,000 towards the youth shelters new building. The total cost of the building was about $6.5 million. (Photo by Jesse Boily)Jesse Boily

Sunrise House Youth Emergency Shelter’s move into its new home just before Christmas “could not have happened at a better time,” reports Tanya Wald, executive director. 

The shelter is currently under capacity; if it were still in its old location, it would be over capacity.

“We were sitting at capacity quite a bit at the old building,” said Wald. “Our numbers have been increasing over the last few years.”

The new shelter has 24 beds, about 15 are currently in use, and five of the 11 housing units are occupied.

“We don’t want youth being in shelter for long periods of time, so we’re still doing really quick work with families; even though we have the space, we still want to get youth through shelter and into stabilized housing as quickly as we can,” said Wald.

She said youth utilizing the housing units are experiencing an immediate positive impact on their life.

“We have quiet spaces, prayer spaces, and spaces to do your homework, and in the old building, we just didn’t have any of that.”

She says the new build also includes safety items like secured entryways protecting the youth and staff.

Wald says the housing units are similar to bachelor suite apartments, helping youth become more independent and prepare for the world outside of Sunrise House. The housing units also help ensure youth at Sunrise are moved into adult homelessness services. 

A staggered intake is underway for the housing units, so the program can have youth coming and leaving throughout the year. 

Sunrise House set out to raise $6.5 million for its new shelter located near Grande Prairie Regional Hospital. Wald says about $500,000 is left to be raised. 

The city contributed over $900,000 to the new building.

“I have no doubt that those last few dollars will come in, just based on the community support,” said Wald who noted the shelter is currently working with a funder for the last bit of needed funds. 

Although financial support has been great, Wald says the community is lacking in mental health support in times of immediacy. 

She noted that Sunrise House runs regular health clinics at the shelter where a nurse and community partners help with counselling and other health gaps. 

The former Sunrise House site was sold to Wapiti House for its Foundations program, a sober living house, which Wald says was a big gap in care in the region.

Sunrise House currently needs its regular “day-to-day supplies,” which include non-perishables, school supplies, art supplies, hygiene items and toiletries. Ways to donate or help can be found at sunrisehouse.ca.

Wald says the centre’s grand opening is being planned for spring. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 07, 2024 at 09:04

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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