A Christian-based charity that helps feed the hungry plans to construct a $6.5 million community centre in North Red Deer next spring.
With the rising cost of living leaving more children and families in poverty, Hope Mission anticipates expanding its service capacity in the area by constructing a two-storey, 25,000 square-foot building with an industrial kitchen, dining room, gymnasium, nursery, playground, classrooms and conference spaces.
A local church has already donated land for the project at 139 Northey Avenue, said Scott Barclay, the charity’s program manager in Red Deer. Once development permits are approved, he expects construction will begin before mid-2024.
“We’re really excited. We can’t wait to open our doors to kids youth and families,” Barclay added.
The “centre of hope” for Red Deer’s most vulnerable families is needed because “up until this point, we’ve supported as many (people) we can, but without a proper facility in Red Deer, we won’t be able to deepen our impact like we have in other Alberta cities,” the charity explains on its website.
Hope Mission, with six full-time and two casual staffers, has been helping fight hunger in Red Deer since 2016. The group is serving breakfasts to students at Glendale and Normandeau schools, and also gives breakfast supplies to nine other schools between Red Deer and Blackfalds.
“On an average month we serve 4,600 breakfasts,” said Barclay.
As well, about 100 kids from North Red Deer also attend free after-school programs. But Barclay said space is limited since Hope Mission now operates out of Impact Life Church at 5833-53rd Ave.
Having a dedicated building, with an up-to-date kitchen and more dining and gathering spaces will increase capacity to meet rising needs in the Red Deer region, he added.
The modern new community centre is described it as a “central hub for kids and families to come eat a meal, participate in a program, learn new skills (and) develop healthy relationships.” Barclay said he hopes to reach out to single parents, seniors and other local groups that could be struggling.
He isn’t sure how much money has been raised so far towards the building project as it’s coming from multiple sources. But he knows more community donations are needed. For more information, please visit hopemission.com/reddeerhope.
Hope Mission also operates in Edmonton, Calgary and Wetaskiwin, offering meals, addiction recovery services, shelter and housing and kids and youth outreach.