‘This money is really about intervention and prevention…we’ve got all these services available so that if a youth does tip over, it’s a warm transfer,’ said Cyndy Dearden, former executive director of the Grove

GUELPH ‒ Access to mental health resources for local youth has become a little easier thanks to a significant financial donation from the Rotary Club of Guelph.

Donating $288,000 to The Grove Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario- Wellington Guelph during a celebratory event and luncheon, all money will go towards supporting the construction of a new youth wellness site on Woolwich Street, which will open in the fall.

One of the youths attending the event, Jennie Martow, 25, said that it was inspiring to see so many people show up to support youth mental health in Guelph.

“It’s really meaningful to see a wide variety of people come together and understand the importance of this issue, the crisis that we’re in,” said Martow. “I hope to see more people take this issue seriously and give, not just their money but their thoughts and their energy to make meaningful changes.”

Speaking during the event at the Italian Canadian Club, Cyndy Dearden, former executive director of the Grove, shared that she believes this will change how youths access care across the municipality.

“We’ve transformed the way services are delivered to youth,” said Dearden. “(We use) a centralized model where youth are at the very beginning and at the very core so that everyone comes to them rather than leaving them to navigate the system alone.”

By creating a space where youth feel comfortable hanging out during their high and low points, Dearden explained that it would allow staff to provide support when needed rather than forcing the students to go looking for it.

“This money is really about intervention and prevention,” said Dearden. “We’ve got all of these services available so that if a youth does tip over, it’s a warm transfer.”

Helping start the Rotary’s quest for funding in 2018, former Rotary President, Paul Dredge, has been involved in trying to get a youth facility into the area since the 90s.

“I’m in shock- I figured if we had half of this number of people show up I’d be happy,” said Dredge. “I’ve never had this kind of feeling in my life before, you know to see something that was a dream come to fruition, and to be so involved from day one.”

Jeff Hoffman, the interim executive director and chief financial officer for the Grove also attended the event to show his support.

“This is really how things seem to work in Guelph Wellington where our community comes together to support one another,” said Hoffman. “This is a community-led initiative led by Rotary and we’re so thankful for everybody in the room.”

A “one-stop-shop” for youth aged 12-26 designed to meet a wide range of needs including mental health, and other community and social services, the Grove Youth Wellness Hub collaborates with over 30 local service providers so that youth can access “the most impactful tools and resources possible.”

“We could not be prouder to see The Grove Wellington Guelph up and running, exceeding all expectations,” said Marty Fairbairn, past president of the Rotary Club of Guelph and current Chair of the RGC Fund, in a news release. “Rotary will forever link the names of its members Cyndy Dearden and Paul Dredge to this endeavor with deep gratitude for their tireless efforts and vision.”

CMHA Waterloo Wellington is now in the process of constructing a three storey 60,000 square foot building at 737 Woolwich St. N. that will become the region’s Center for Children Mental Health and Development Services, housing one of the Groves sites.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally funded program.