BY ALIZA GRAHAM
The Camrose Open Door is a regional non-profit organization that is funded in various ways including government contracts, government grants, private grants, donations and fundraising. Youth from throughout the central region of Alberta, who are between the ages of 11 and 24, can come to the Open Door in times of need for support and outreach services. A team of passionate and dedicated directors, youth support workers, volunteer workers, and practicum students work to provide support 24/7 to those in need. It also has a 24 hour emergency helpline. Youth support services aim to help youth to grow and transition into successful adults. With the help of the Open Door, youth in need have a chance at a brighter future and the support they need in order to become contributing members of society.
The Open Door offers support, effective services, and a safe place for youth in need. Homeless youth may be couchsurfing, staying in abandoned places, or unsafe environments and the Open Door can help provide them with a safe place to stay. They have an emergency shelter, as well as offering transitional suites to those who need help adjusting to the transition from living in a shelter to living independently in a community. There are many possibilities for why a youth is homeless, such as family violence/abuse, addictions, mental health, or neglect. Sometimes youth come to the Open Door when they need a break from their home life and seek a safe place.
The services offered are client centered, solution focused, and individualized to meet the specific needs of clients. To the Open Door, there is no specific definition of a youth ‘in need’; there are many reasons why a young person might come to the Open Door for help. The Open Door is there for any youth that requires assistance in any part of their life. Some possibilities of a youth ‘in need’ include those who need help with a place to live, help finding a job, help with transportation, or help dealing with parents/caregivers or family situations. Perhaps they just need someone to talk to, or a place to come to during the day, or they are hungry and need food. In times of need, youth can come by the Open Door office for something to eat. The Open Door outreach services include employment and school support, as well as referrals to assist in all areas of life, these outreach services can be accessed in the community, main office, or through the helpline. Additionally, they have an employment program that provides job coaching, job searches, and referrals to help youth find employment and support them as they cope with difficult situations. They also help support youth staying in school.
The Open Door offers help for those youths who need a referral to a doctor, or mental health assistance. For youths and families, there are counseling services available which are free of charge. A Behavioral Health Consultant from the Camrose Primary Care Network (PCN) is on site to help with mental health, substance abuse and the health needs of youth. With the Youth Hub, the PCN and the Open Door partnered in order to offer help to youth who need healthcare and social support. The services are youth and family oriented, providing easy access to primary care, addiction and mental health support and social services. An outreach navigator can help youth in need to find the right assistance. The Open Door also has a trained therapy dog named Moose, who is at the office and provides support to youth.
In addition, the Open Door has a Library Drop-In group every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., which focuses on encouraging discussion and learning about topics and issues including bullying, self-esteem, and family violence. The group encourages youth to participate in activities and discussions that help develop their self-confidence.
A great way to support the Open Door is with grocery gift cards to help buy food for the shelter and for the outreach at the Open Door office. Clients living independently may come to the Open Door for assistance with purchasing food. Gift cards for clothing, house ware, activity passes, and single serving food items are also helpful.