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Local youth welcomed back to 'refreshed' youth centre

Orillia Youth Centre staff reopened today for the first time since Christmas; 'We gave it a nice refresh and it looks really good,' says official who lauded community partners

The Orillia Youth Centre re-opened on Thursday after being closed for drop-ins since the Christmas holidays as a result of the province-wide lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus. 

While staff kept busy serving local youth during the lockdown, they also used the time as an opportunity to breathe new life into their 9 Front St. S. location.

“We decided to do a little bit of painting, we have had some technology stuff come in that we have now installed, and we have just given the whole centre an overhaul in anticipation for re-opening,” said the centre's director, Kevin Gangloff.

During the province-wide lockdown, staff delivered programs online and ran a community outreach program in which they delivered food and supplies to youth from all different walks of life.

“We did daily chats, we did phone calls, and we did socially-distanced face-to-face meetings with youth who don’t have the opportunity to get online,” Gangloff explained.

The centre has delivered more than 4,000 meals since the beginning of the pandemic, and provided local youth with more than $16,000 worth of much-needed groceries.

“We’ve been doing all that we can to keep youth connected and supported, which is incredibly important during these times,” Gangloff said.

When local youth returned to the centre on Thursday, they were welcomed into a new-look facility.

“The centre gets beat up, it gets dinged, chips in the drywall, just because of all the use that goes on, so we gave the centre a nice refresh,” Gangloff said. “All the drywall has been repaired, carpets and floors were cleaned. We gave it a nice refresh and it looks really good.”

The centre is now equipped with gaming stations, a high definition projector and a 3D printer. The impressive makeover took four days and was done by the centre staff, along with some help.

“Mike Whitwell, who we met through the Kiwanis Club, is a painter by trade and a craftsman, so he actually came in and helped us through the process and generously gave his time,” Gangloff said.

The Orillia Home Depot was gracious enough to donate all the supplies needed for the centre's makeover.

“It’s incredibly generous of them. They have been tremendous partners with us. All it took was a phone call and they were offering whatever we needed to get the centre re-open and cleaned up,” Gangloff said.

Tammy Irwin, store manager at The Home Depot, says the home improvement store was more than happy to help and support local youth.

“The youth centre is one of our community partners, so when Kevin reached out we were happy to give the product over to them. We thought it was a great time and opportunity for them to renovate the centre,” she said.

Irwin says the staff at The Home Depot get a morale boost by contributing to a local cause.

“It’s amazing to see how much it helps. We are always happy to help with anything we can to make our local youth feel better for when they are coming back into the centre,” she said.  

Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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