N.B. organization supporting at-risk youth receives donation of new building in Fredericton

Partners for Youth Coordinator, Zoe Bourgeois, and Executive Director John Sharpe. Megan Yamoah/Global News

A non-profit organization in New Brunswick that provides services and support to at-risk youth has received a donation of a new headquarters building in downtown Fredericton on Thursday.

The building donation, valued around $400,000, came from Jim Ross of Ross Ventures, a former Canadian senator. Ross is also one of the founders of the organization.

For the past 25 years, Partners For Youth has been offering mental health services, transitional housing, employment support and summer camps.

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A former child in care, and coordinator for the organization, Zoe Bourgeois, said she wouldn’t be here without those services, which she used before starting to work for them.

“We have a few youth that were in the homeless shelter prior to Christmas and they were able to apply to one of our programs and we were able to set them up with first and last month’s rent and grocery cards to be able to afford food before the holidays,” said Bourgeois.

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In a typical year, it would cost the organization one million dollars to run, and since the pandemic began, the need for emergency support has increased.

That demand caused a need for an expansion — especially with physical distancing requirements.

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Executive director John Sharpe said the group currently has staff doubled up in offices, with no large meeting spaces and a small kitchen.

“It really limits our ability to do our work so this new location will allow us to expand, to meet the needs of more youth,” said Sharpe.

He said the location is perfect for the organization. “It’s highly visible and the building itself inside is well suited for a not-for-profit organization,” Sharpe said.

Once the move to the new location takes place, the organization said it wants to create new initiatives and establish a research and development hub related to issues that impact youth at-risk across New Brunswick.

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“I know that this is only the beginning of so much more that we are ready to do, it’s going to be a wonderful next chapter,” said Bourgeois.

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