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Sunrise House looking forward to future expanded capacity, helping more youth

Sunrise House Emergency Youth Shelter has a scheduled appearance with Grande Prairie City Council on Monday, where amendments to Bylaw C-1260-149 are expected to be announced, allowing for expanded capacity of the Youth Emergency Shelter in the future.

Tanya Wald, Executive Director with Sunrise House says the shelter has been working on an expansion for some time, dating back to November of 2019.

“It’s very exciting for us, as with our new building we will double our current capacity. It’s been especially difficult for us over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to reduce our beds, due to spacing and physical distancing issues. With the larger building, we won’t be in a position to turn any youth away.”

Additionally, the expanded facility will allow them to expand some of their current programs, such as the Family Support Program, which helps children get back to their families in a safe way.

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Wald says that the shelter is open 24/7 for youth who may need a helping hand.

“We are Grande Prairie and the north regions Youth Emergency Shelter. We work with youth ages 12-17 who are either currently homeless or at risk of being homeless. That could be due to a breakdown of their family, or other situations. We are open 24/7 and youth can access us by simply showing up at the door, or they can call ahead if they need assistance getting to us.”

The shelter is open to accepting volunteers if anyone would like to come in if they have a skill or knowledge base they feel would be a benefit for their youth.

“We’ve had money mentors that came in and talked about budgeting for our youth. We’ve also had people come in and bring their guitars to teach kids how to play a little bit. We also are hoping to have some fundraisers this year and we would need some volunteers to help with that,” she says.

Wald has been with the organization since 2010 and she says it continues to be a great experience for her.

“I’m grateful to work with Sunrise House and I’ve been able to meet and connect with some incredible people and some of the greatest kids. We really get to see the change and their growth and we also stay connected with our kids as they move forward in their life.”

The organization hopes to see the building of the expanded shelter start in the early spring or summer, and estimates that the facility will be ready in about 12 months after construction begins. The shelter takes in around 110-120 youth per year.

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