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Best of Red Deer: Centre for Social Impact aims to build connection

Infrastructure upgrades underway at downtown building
Centre for Social Impact is located in the former Professional Building in downtown Red Deer. (File photo by Advocate staff)

The Centre for Social Impact is taking shape to bring charities and non-profits together in the downtown to help them connect and collaborate to better serve their clients and the community. 

Last year, the former Professional Building was donated to Youth HQ, and in May the centre celebrated its first year with an open house. 

"We've got a lot done. The team has worked really hard, the board has worked hard, and the community has been really rallying behind this work and that's a fantastic place to be in," said Youth HQ executive director Rob Lewis.

He said visitors, both inside and outside the social service sector, are encouraged to check out the centre. 

"Everyone is welcome. We just love for people to be able to see what we're doing. The purpose of this structure, and this building, and this plan, is to create better impact in the community," he said about the centre, located at 4808 50th St.

He said connecting non-profits to do better together has always been his focus. The centre is where that can happen, and is already happening, with colleagues in the human services field supporting each other.

Four of the six floors are occupied by Youth HQ administration, UBUNTU – Mobilizing Central Alberta, a Turning Point program, and another organization that was moving into the centre soon. 

Prospective tenants, supporters and sponsors are encouraged to reach out to find out how they can be part of The Centre for Social Impact.

The building was donated by Maclab Properties Group, and the centre provides affordable office, program and meeting spaces.

Lewis said training space is now available at a very reasonable cost, as well as a couple large meeting spaces to support organizations with limited budgets that can't find the space to fit their needs.

"Typically in Red Deer you can find a room for a dozen people, or a room for 300 people, and there is nothing in between. We offer a couple different varieties of space and they're all under the 70 people or less."

Improvements to the building's infrastructure is underway thanks to a $1-million Community Facility Enhancement Program grant from the province announced earlier this year. Work to be done to the roof and HVAC system will increase the longevity of the building and reduce its carbon footprint.

Creating a single location where people can access a variety of services is also intended to help remove some of the barriers facing those trying to seek help.

Lewis said the move has already raised the profile of Youth HQ in the community, which offers a variety of programs to support young Central Albertans, including the 49th Street Youth Shelter, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program, and Camp Alexo.

Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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