Hawthorne House is undergoing a major renovation, Homebridge Youth Society’s biggest fundraising initiative to date.
The project, which began in late August, involves an 800-square foot addition, as well as interior renovations to turn four bedrooms into six, expanding a too-small kitchen and adding a second bathroom.
Originally estimated at $275,000, once the renovation got fully underway the final price tag increased to $300,000. Through fundraising and corporate donations, the society has raised all but $70,000 of it so far.
“It can be a struggle raising money for this type of project as it’s bricks and mortar rather than programming, but this will go a long way in helping us improve what we do. It is all about supporting the youth,” said Renee Stevens, Homebridge Youth Society’s communications and development officer.
The situation in the house previously had six young people sharing four bathrooms and one bathroom.
“It’s fine to share a bedroom with your sibling, but it’s another thing entirely to share your room with another high-risk youth,” said Stevens.
Hawthorne House is the society’s first facility. Opened in 1977, the house — which stands at the corner of Prince Albert Rd. and Hawthorne St. — houses six males between 12 to 18 years of age. The home, along with the five other residential care facilities for youth throughout Halifax Regional Municipality, provides care for high-risk youth from across Nova Scotia. Approximately 40 young people are in care at any given time, up to 140 annually.
There are a myriad of reasons why a young person ends up in a residential care, but there is one constant in every story, Stevens said.
“They do not choose their circumstances and they need to be supported while they each move through their individual situation,” she said.
Having separate bedrooms and a second shower will make an enormous difference for the youth who live there, Stevens added.
“You can only imagine what it was like with six teenage boys trying to get ready for school in the morning with only one shower,” she said.
The larger kitchen will also make a big difference, not only making meal preparation easier for the youth workers, it will allow more opportunity to guide the boys as they learn basic cooking skills.
While the renovation to Hawthorne House is underway, the youth who were living there have been moved to another facility.
Neighbours have been kept informed at every step of the process as well, Stevens said. In the lead-up to Christmas, one caring neighbour even sent a plant and surprise basket to where the boys are now living.
“That was just so thoughtful and kind,” Stevens said. “We have a very supportive community.”
The renovation will be completed in the new year. Homebridge plans to hold an open house when it is complete.
For more information on donating to the project go to the society’s website: www.homebridgeyouth.ca or contact Renee Stevens at (902) 466-1439 ext. 234