Friday, May 13, 2011

What will the Youth House Look Like?

At first the focus of the Youth Working Group was to discuss the programs for the Saint John Youth House.  We asked the main questions, "Who would this house be for?" "What will it offer?"  "How long can youth stay at the house?" "How will it compliment what is already taking place in the city for at-risk youth?"

Over time we began to ask, what kind of building we would need to facilitate our program?  What would it look like?  After several pitiful attempts at drawing circles on a flip chart it was clear we needed professional help.  :)  At this point Brendan Bates of Toss Solutions came to the table.  Brendan and the Toss Solutions team have really captured the vision for the youth house in that they all have a warm and homey feel and they are functional as well.  Toss Solutions provided three beautiful conceptual drawings.  What is remarkable about their work, aside from its quality, is that their time and skill have all been donated to the project.  This is a significant contribution for which we are truly grateful.

Option 1

You can see in Option 1 that we would use the building that housed St. James Church before its closure 6 years ago.  In this option the the building would be completely gutted.  A concrete slab would be laid with supports for a second storey.  The sanctuary would be removed and the steeple would likely be removed as well.

The first floor would include a small suite for a house parent(s).  The house parent(s) could be a responsible theological student or university student who would supervise the youth house for credit.  The intent is that the house parents would be mentors to the youth living at the house.  The ground level would also have office space, and common space including a library, games room, multipurpose space and kitchen.

The upper floor would be divided between female and male sleeping quarters.  Each side would have a common space and bathrooms.

The benefits to this option is that it would preserve the St. James building.  The community would most likely appreciate this.  Most Anglicans would as well.  Also there is ample space in this design.

The drawbacks to this option are that ongoing maintenance costs would be high.  A stone building in Saint John needs to be repointed every 10-15 years.  Stone buildings are also not energy efficient.  In order to maintain the integrity of the walls a percentage of the heat needs to radiate through the walls.

Option 2

Options 2, as indicated, is on the St. James site but it would a new build.  The exterior design has not been fully developed.  The intent, however, is to have an exterior that compliments the surrounding community

Like option 1, it would be a two storey building.  If the site allowed for it, Option 2 would also have a basement.  In this option common areas and the female bed rooms would be on the ground floor. 

The Upper floor  would include a quiet room, the House Parent's Suite, the male bed rooms, and a library.

The benefits of option 2 would be an new and energy efficient building.  

Option 3

I won't lie.  I'm personally leaning toward option 3.  This is the latest conceptual drawing offered by Toss Solutions.  In this option, the facade from St. James is preserved.  It would be a unheated and supported by the new structure.  The main doors would be removed to allow an entry way into a roofed courtyard.  I love this because it gives the feeling of sanctuary without any barrier.

In this option female bedrooms, common areas, staff areas and the small suite are all downstairs.  The upper level would house the male bedrooms and bathrooms only.

This option beautifully preserves the historic while blending it with a new and energy efficient building.  

So, there you have it.  These are some possible ways the Saint John Youth House may look.  Please post any questions or comments you may have.  I would especially appreciate comments from the committee to fill in any details that I have not.  Cheers!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where will the Saint John Youth House be located?

          At this point nothing is set in stone as far as the location of the youth house. One possible site is St. James Broad St. in the South End of the city.  This church which was closed about 6 years ago could again be a centre of hope and healing for the community.  One of the advantages of using this location is that it is somewhat removed from more concentrated areas of the drug and sex trades in our city. Yet, it is close enough for clients to access programs and high schools.  It is also on a major bus route.   
                  The Youth House is more than just a shelter.  We hope it will be a community.  It will be a place where each person is valued and respected by those living/serving in the House.  We also hope to encourage a sense of value in the surrounding community.  We hope to work with the youth in being a beneficial presence in the South end, if this is the area selected for the youth house.  A big part of this selection will depend on the support of the wider community. 

The Saint John Youth House

In the past 15 months my role in the Archdeaconry has developed from that of discerning a direction for our shared ministry to that of actualizing a shared ministry.   After 8 months of walking, talking and praying we were given a vision for ministry.  That vision is to address youth homelessness in Saint John, NB.  There are around 200 homeless people between the ages of 16 and 24 in our city.  These youth are living in unsafe environments with their families of origin, are couch surfing with friends, are living on the street or with predators (Drug dealers and/or pimps).  Our task, as we see it, is to partner with existing agencies that address youth homelessness.  In particular we hope to provide emergency housing for youth and thus strengthen the programs already in place through agencies like The John Howard Society, The Resource Centre for Youth, and One Change.  Together we believe we can provide a continuum of care that will make a difference for youth.  By providing a stable and safe environment alongside case management and educational programs we believe our Church can greatly improve the lives of many young people.  Breaking cycles of poverty and abuse today will create stronger communities tomorrow.
          Please be praying for us as we establish a board dedicated to the construction of the Youth House, and a board to direct the running of the Youth House.