Community members will come together today (Sept. 19) to celebrate the kickoff to the renovations of a housing complex for at-risk youth.
An anonymous donor gave the house, Forrest House, to the Threshold Housing Society, which offers transitional housing for people between 16 and 21 years of age who are at risk of being homeless.
“The place needed a big renovation to be made safe and sustainable,” said Paul Latour, founder of HeroWork Program Society, the organization in charge of the renovation. The complex is located on Davie Street in Oak Bay.
Today’s opening ceremony will start off with a parade, the convoy of heroes. Close to 70 decorated vehicles full of sponsors, contractors and volunteers will drive from the Oak Bay Marina at 4 p.m. to the site on Davie Street at 4:30 p.m.
“Everybody will be honking their horns,” said Latour. “It’s really a celebration of community and cooperation.”
At 5 p.m., everyone from the parade will march onto the building site, led by a bagpiper.
After an opening ceremony, demolition of the inside of the building will start at 5:30 p.m.
“The contractors say it’s about a $350,000-valued renovation,” said Latour, adding there are 80 companies involved who have donated time and resources to the project.
“A couple hundred volunteers will be involved in it as well in addition to that,” sad Latour. “It’s about creating this amazing, wonderful event that inspires people and gets them all working toward a common goal.”
The kickoff party will also feature live music, food, clowns and face painting. It will wrap up at 7:30 p.m. and be completely over by 8 p.m.
The renovation will then continue for three successive weekends, with the grand reveal on Oct. 5.
“Paul Latour and the HeroWork Society have been a God-send,” said Mark Muldoon, executive director of Threshold Housing Society. “We would not have been able to open this building without their help.”
The building will be able to house at most six youth, said Muldoon. One of the units will be used for life skill building such as cooking and financial literacy.
“Our goal is to give at-risk youth a very positive rental experience as a stepping stone into adult independence,” said Muldoon. Forrest House is a transition house in that there is a termination point to each individual’s residency.
Once Threshold Housing Society decides a resident has reached a certain level of maturity and integrity, it will be time for them to move on, said Muldoon.
“We don’t discharge anyone to homelessness,” he said. “We make sure they have a good, safe, clean environment to move into.”