The son of a former Nipissing-Parry Sound Children’s Aid Society employee has donated a quarter of a million dollars towards the establishment of a space for programs and workshops for youth in his hometown of North Bay.
Steven and Danielle Beauchamp, along with three of their four children, marked the official opening of the Beauchamp Hub with a ribbon cutting ceremony surrounded by local politicians, family and friends.
The hub is located in the future OneSite location of the CAS, at the former Ecole St-Paul on Elmwood Avenue.
The former Scollard Hall graduate who now lives with his family in Chicago, wanted to share his business success by giving back to the community where his parents spent much of their time helping others in need.
"We wanted to give back to kids and most importantly, we wanted to give back to kids where we grew up. We're very excited," said Beauchamp about the donation.
"I think the unique part of this concept is often times donors will fund the initial build, but not necessarily the staffing involved to make it successful. So the fact that we provided some funding for the build as well as staffing for the next three years is probably unique."
His father Raymond, who was at the ceremony, worked for the CAS for over 30 years. The younger Beauchamp remembers as a child, helping his father deliver presents at Christmas and turkeys at Thanksgiving, even helping out with tag days.
"These kids often come from a more challenged past than maybe some of us do, and can certainly benefit from some guidance, and really working towards independence. Having a place they can come to, where they can get the help they need, is just a great cause," said Beauchamp.
Equipped with laundry facilities, a full kitchen, living areas and tech stations for homework, the space will offer a variety of programs, including a 20-week workshop for youth in care and any youth in the community to develop a wide range of skills.
"I think the opportunities are endless. We're looking at programming for some of our youth working towards independence," said Gisele Hebert, CAS Executive Director.
"So that will go from any independence skills whether it be cooking, self-esteem, preparation of resumes or interviews, just to make them successful as adults. We have a lot of youth transitioning, we have about 55 between the ages of 16 and 22 that are in our care at this point and we have about another 15 that are 15 years old. So this is really something that we paid attention to and we want to make sure that they're really well prepared moving into adulthood."
The space will also be home to the Youth Advisory Committee, of which Cindy Stead is a member.
"I like giving youth a voice especially when they don't have one, or they're afraid to speak up. With the hub, I'm most excited about showing it to youth in care and bringing them here because there is going to be programs run here. And with the Youth Advisory Committee, we're going to hold our meetings here instead of the CAS building, so when we get more youth on the committee, we get to share the hub with them as well," said Stead.
"I'm excited about the budgeting program, especially since I'm 19 and out on my own. It's very hard budgeting money and stuff so with them bringing in people helping with the budgeting, it will really help us learn how to prioritize, how to put money in certain places."
The hub will be promoted as a safe space and will pilot LGBTQ2S programs, culturally sensitive and Indigenous-specific programming , as well as gender-specific programming such as FathersMatter and MotherCare.
"We're hoping to move forward sooner than later. Everything is pretty well done, except we need the final inspection. We're hoping to know more about that this week. The classroom is ready to come in whenever they tell us we can occupy the building," said Hebert.