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Former directors part of Weyburn Youth Centre anniversary night

The 30th anniversary supper included a live and silent auction in support of the Weyburn Youth Centre.

WEYBURN – Two former executive directors for the Weyburn Youth Centre were part of the 30th anniversary banquet held on Saturday night at the Knox Hall.

Brian Hopfe, who served in the position for 19 years, and Jerry Dennill, who was the first director hired in 1993, both spoke to the full audience.

In addition, board chair Cam Weber provided a history time-line of the Youth Centre, and a live and silent auction were held to help raise funds for the centre’s ongoing operations.

Weber noted the event raised about $9,000 from the supper and auction, and they are getting close to $15,000 total with donations still coming in.

Prior to the former directors, Mayor Marcel Roy brought greetings from city council for the anniversary, and noted from his time as a police officer, he could see how the youth centre helped young people in the city.

He also noted that when the skateboard park was installed, “it was great to see the number of kids that were on it and hanging out at the youth centre.”

Jake Schellenberg, a representative from Youth for Christ Canada spoke, as the youth centre has been associated with that ministry from the beginning. He noted they serve 336 communities across Canada, “and Weyburn is definitely a part of that. … It’s so neat when a community gets behind initiatives for the next generation.”

The first discussion in the community to establish a youth centre in Weyburn was on Sept. 10, 1992, and it began from that point. After a year of work and planning, Dennill was hired in 1993, and the centre, known initially as “The Freeway”, opened in January of 1994 in downtown Weyburn.

Weber noted it only lasted one year in that location, as the downtown merchants didn’t want the youth centre there, and they temporarily moved to the basement of the Baptist Church, until vandals trashed that location.

The organization received land for their new location from the City and Ag Society in 1995, and they bought two buildings: the former Goodwater United Church, bought for $1, and the former Colfax Community Centre, bought for $1,500 and moved into its current location near the Tom Zandee Sports Arena.

After applying for grants, the organization received a grant of $97,000 from the Muttart Foundation, and $30,000 from the City of Weyburn, and the grand opening of the youth centre was held in October of 1998.

Dennill moved on at the end of September of 1999, and Ruth Brown filled in until Brian Hopfe came on board in mid-August of 2001, and he served for 19 years.

This time included the installation of the skateboard park in the summer of 2005.

Dennill said the youth centre is important to himself and his wife, and to the community, because “kids need help. It’s kind of rough out there.”

He encouraged people to continue to volunteer to help at the youth centre, and to be involved in its work and outreach to youth.

He noted he’s met some key people in the 30 years he was in ministry, and one of those was here at the youth centre. He recalled an older man named Clarence who volunteered to help clean up and look after the place as crews were renovating the space for the centre in its first location.

“He swept everything and under everything, he picked up and organized the tools, and he went above and beyond,” said Dennill, who noted that Clarence told him he did “as unto the Lord”.

“When you think about the youth centre, it takes a lot of people to keep it going. Kids need help, and lots of it. This is your youth centre, keep it going; get involved and make it successful, as unto the Lord,” said Dennill.

Hopfe agreed with Dennill’s comments that youth today need some where they can go to get support and help.

“Today, things aren’t getting any better. Every five minutes a child commits suicide; every five minutes a child is being molested, and the list goes on and on and on,” he said. “I work with youth in a church, and I see that there as well. Youth need to know they’re loved, and wanted and are cared for.”

The youth centre can provide youth with a safe place to go to, and that there is a place where adults are present who care for them and won’t yell and scream at them for things they’ve done wrong, he added.

Hopfe noted there are youth who went on from the youth centre and today are making a positive difference in ministry and in jobs in the community.

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