The Salvation Army’s highly anticipated Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre in Winnipeg is now officially open.
On Monday, July 30 thirteen dignitaries and more than two hundred guests gathered to celebrate the official opening of the Centre, a hub of activity where newcomers learn skills, restore self-esteem and confidence, to function in Canadian society.
The Centre in Winnipeg was made possible through a generous donation of $1.9 million from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, and $1.5 million each from the Municipal and Federal Governments through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund. The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and members of the Weston Family, who have a relationship with The Salvation Army that spans over 40 years, have also made a donation of $1.1 million to support the establishment of another Centre in Calgary, Alberta, which will officially open later this year.
“The Salvation Army Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre is a fascinating lighthouse in the middle of a community in great need,” says Commissioner Brian Peddle, Territorial Leader for Canada and Bermuda.
Formerly known as the Multicultural Family Centre, the new, state-of-the-art facility opened its doors in March 2012. Since then, hundreds of people have come through the Centre—people affected by low education levels, social isolation, family violence, inadequate employment skills and low coping skills.
“People don’t come to the resource centre to get fancy things,” says Wendi Park, director, “they seek relationship and they want to be heard and valued.”
The building, which includes a gymnasium, well-equipped kitchen, television and video game lounge, as well as classroom space and a computer lab, houses a range of services and programs for individuals, children, youth and families.
Programs include employment training and mentorship to war-affected youth; assistance and support to expecting parents and those with infants; an English Café where individuals can improve their English and get homework help; a food bank; and a youth drop-in program.
Furthermore, a senior outreach program is a much needed addition to the Centre as the neighbourhood has one of the highest populations of seniors in Winnipeg.
“The Centres, named for our mother, the late Barbara Mitchell, will support families struggling to overcome adversity,” says Eliza Mitchell. “Our mother’s commitment to helping those less fortunate will be reflected in the wonderful work of The Salvation Army.”
During the ceremony, the Morrow Avenue Child Care Centre Children’s Choir delighted the audience with their rendition of “This Little Light of Mine”. Christian rap artist Shadow joined the hip hop group LEEP Fresh Crew with an original song he wrote for the occasion.
After a prayer of dedication by Divisional Commander Major Wayne Bungay, the children of the late Barbara Mitchell joined other dignitaries in cutting the ribbon to officially open The Salvation Army Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre. Guests were then invited inside for tours and a light lunch.
“We are very pleased and excited to partner with The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the Provincial and Federal Governments in Giving Hope to our communities and especially new Canadians,” said Major Wayne Bungay, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Prairie Division, “This beautiful new building will enhance and increase our capacity in providing valuable programs and services that reach out into the community and restore dignity to all people.”