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City issues $939K to Sunrise House to support facility move

Grande Prairie’s Sunrise House has given an update to city council and members of the public regarding their recent move to a larger facility.

The move took place just a few days before Christmas, and Sunrise House Executive Director Tanya Wald says the undertaking went surprisingly smoothly.

“For a move of that caliber it went really well, we had lots of volunteers that showed up with trucks and trailers and we packed up and we moved buildings,” she says. “We had really high numbers this year at Christmas and to get them into that new space was really special.”

Throughout the move, teams of up to 15 volunteers helped move toiletries, clothing, and other donations over the course of a week. Wald says the Sunrise House’s residents were mostly kept away from the action during the process, and some were understandably anxious about the move; however, Wald says once they saw the new facility, all their reservations seemed to disappear.

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“Some of them were anxious, they were so used to this house, this was their safe place to be, and then all of the sudden they were going to a new one,” she says. “Once we got over there and they were able to see the space and how we kept this very homelike space, they were really happy to be there.”

Wald credits the city and other funders for making the project possible, and after a $939K donation from the city, the relationship between the Sunrise House and Grande Prairie council was solidified even further.

“We have many champions on city council and from talking to the community and letting people know they were behind the project, they understood the project which was really important.”

The new facility features a number of amenities, but Wald says simply having more space has opened up more opportunities for the house. She says the old building lacked security, but safety for residents and staff was top of mind when looking at a new space.

“Now we have secure entryways, so people are much safer, including our staff.”

In addition to security, the new building offers a variety of specialized spaces for prayer, homework, and quiet time.

“In the old building we didn’t have any of that, everything was just in one space,” Wald says.

Additional housing units have also been added to the Sunrise House’s roster. 11 full bachelor apartments are available for residents who wish to live independently, bridging the gap between departure from the youth emergency shelter, to adulthood and independent living.

“We can catch those youth who need to leave us and live independently, but don’t have the support or the skills to do that so now we can move them into that unit,” the Executive Director says.

Currently, 24 beds are available for young people to seek refuge, nearly double the available space of the old shelter, which Wald says is a welcome addition as unfortunately, youth homelessness is still a battle to be fought in the city.

“Now we’re sitting at a place where we always have space so that’s really important,” she says. “We never know when we’re going to get an influx of high numbers so this way we know that we’re good.”

The Sunrise House is now working with a funder to finish off its $7,000,000 fundraising campaign, and Wald says she is confident in and thankful for all the community support during the process.

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