Cyrus Centre in Abbotsford has had to turn down 20 youths for a bed in its emergency shelter this month alone, and executive director Les Talvio says he has never seen the facility that busy in its 11 years of operation.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve had a vacancy (with the shelter beds). It’s been awhile since we’ve been this steady on a consistent basis,” he said.
In the first eight months of this year, the centre, which serves homeless and at-risk youth, recorded more than 7,000 visits – an average of 875 each month. A total of 98 kids accessed the emergency shelter.
The growing demand for services, coupled with a drop in donations, has left Cyrus Centre $90,000 short in its budget of where it was last year at this time.
Talvio said the shortfall means the Abbotsford location is running leaner than ever.
“There’s no room for extras … (For example), there’s no budget to replace the fridge, which, I think, is on its last legs,” he said.
The resource centre provides four emergency-shelter beds at its location at 2616 Ware St. and also offers services such as counselling, employment coaching, hot meals, showers and laundry.
Cyrus Centre also runs Babich House, semi-independent housing for youth 16 and older, who live with “house parents” in a supportive and nurturing living environment.
All Cyrus Centre services are funded primarily by donations from businesses, churches, organizations and individuals.
Talvio speculates that donations are down this year due to an ongoing issue that is facing many non-profit organizations.
“There’s so much demand on people’s pocketbooks … Food costs have gone through the roof, and there are so many more charitable organizations operating in Abbotsford to fight needs that are present.”
Talvio also wonders whether youth homelessness has been overshadowed by the focus on the adult homeless issue in Abbotsford, such as the B.C. Supreme Court decision released last week over city bylaws that prohibit camping in parks.
“Sometimes, youth homelessness has been swept under the carpet,” he said.
The centres in Abbotsford and Chilliwack offer the only youth emergency shelter beds between Vancouver and the Okanagan.
Cyrus Centre in Abbotsford operates on an annual budget of about $420,000.
The location in Chilliwack, which opened in 2014, is facing similar challenges, and is down about $70,000 over last year at this time. It operates on an annual budget of about $310,000.
Talvio hopes that two upcoming fundraisers will help alleviate some of these financial struggles.
The 11th annual dessert night and silent/live auction for the Abbotsford location takes place Friday, Nov. 6 at Northview Church, 32040 Downes Rd. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at Cyrus Centre.
For more information or to make a donation, visit cyruscentre.com or call 604-859-5773.
The dessert night and silent/live auction for the Chilliwack location is on Friday, Nov. 20 at Main Street Church, 9325 Main St. Doors open at 6:30.
For tickets, call 604-795-5773, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the centre at 45845 Wellington Ave.