Fundraising slow for youth addictions treatment facility

It is slow, slow going for the fundraising efforts of those trying to bring a residential treatment facility for youth with drug and alcohol addictions to Central Alberta.

It is slow, slow going for the fundraising efforts of those trying to bring a residential treatment facility for youth with drug and alcohol addictions to Central Alberta.

Almost two years since the McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association began its quest to raise money for such an institution, less than $5,000 in funding has been secured. The non-profit would like to set up a facility outside of Red Deer where youth could stay for one month or more while receiving support and counselling.

“What we were looking at originally was an acreage within 20 minutes of town so that we’re secluded enough so that kids aren’t going to walk off too easily, but far enough out of town to be away from any triggers they might have and make for a more relaxing, peaceful setting,” said Christine Stewart, program manager with McMan.

The problem is that to acquire something of the sort is not exactly cheap, with projected costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yet the organization is not intending to build Rome in a day, it just needs around $50,000 to enable a down payment and get the capital piece off the ground. McMan began fundraising for the down payment in late 2012, with an initial goal to have the home operational soon after.

Stewart said McMan has received grant funding in recent years, but has directed those monies to more established programs.

While it has developed policies and procedures and trained staff for what it envisions to be a six-bed treatment facility, without substantial corporate sponsorship or a government partnership, it will likely continue to focus on its other offerings.

One of those programs is Protection of Children Abusing Drugs (PChAD), a 10-day, five-bed detox program for teens contracted by Alberta Health Services. PChAD allows parents of a minor who is abusing alcohol or drugs to apply to provincial court for an apprehension and confinement order for detox.

What McMan wants to put together would be a step up from PChAD — a home that is not locked-down where youth can stay for longer, away from triggers. There are three existing residential treatment programs in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, which Central Albertans are able to access for three months at a time.

“There are a lot of kids who need help, and sometimes outpatient services aren’t what you need when your problems are right in your neighbourhood, whether it’s at home or the friends you hang out with. You’ve got habits, you’ve got triggers right there. It’s hard to make new habits in the middle of your old ones,” said Stewart.

“Some kids, they just truly need at least 30 days separate from that to get clean. … You can’t just decide you’re going to give up drugs with no plan on how you’re going to do it.”

Stewart said she has met with potential funders and government representatives to push for funding and attempt to secure an existing, vacant facility. In the meantime, McMan is continuing to fundraise.

Its next event is an Amazing Race that will take place on June 7 at Westerner Park. The event will feature food, cultural and athletic challenges, and is open to teams of two.

Anyone interested in signing up can contact Stewart at 403-309-2002.

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