Funding & Board of Directors
It was 2002 when Charlie and Sue Kopczyk began to reach out to people on the streets in Brantford, Ontario. They spent countless hours in the downtown core listening to people who sorely needed to be heard. They prayed for them, laughed with them, and built relationships with them. The reality was that there was a large portion of the population desperately in need of acceptance and plain old help. Basic needs like food, clothing, belonging, and a listening ear were sorely needed.
Charlie and Sue received permission to use the Blessing Centre facility and transformed the resource centre into a black-light lounge on Thursdays to give the young people a place to be happy and safe. The Why Not dream kept growing, and soon obtained a building of its own on the north side of Colborne Street. Eventually, Why Not City Missions was incorporated. Today, Why Not is a Registered Canadian Charity and is supported through donations from individuals, grants, and fundraisers. It is a Christian organization founded on the principles of love, grace, kindness, and care (Isaiah 58).
In addition to Why Not Youth Centre, Why Not City Missions includes The Gathering, a monthly church service, and Healing Rooms, a drop in program for community members to receive prayer and support.
Why Not Youth Centre is now a bustling drop in centre, visited hundreds of times each month by local homeless and at-risk youth. Using team mentorship and a responsive programming approach to youth engagement, Why Not works hard to empower young people so they can overcome the challenges they face and move toward functional, healthy adulthood.
The young people who attend Why Not have a few things in common: almost all of them live in poverty, most only have contact with one or fewer of their parents, and even fewer have a safe, consistent place to live. In fact, half of the young people attending the centre are “mobile,” living in three or more places each year. Some of our teen community members report living in 15 or more places in a single year. While our organization is not a shelter and doesn’t have beds (yet!), we function like a community living room, so that, no matter how many places they sleep, we’re still the same.
Some of the other challenges that plague our teen community members are bullying, substance dependency, emerging mental illness, unplanned pregnancies, criminal activity, abuse, poverty, lost identification, and dropping out of school.
That’s why providing a support community to these young people is of such vital importance. By meeting basic needs like safety, food, belonging, and helping them to find shelter, they find more stability, which is deeply essential for moving forward with their lives instead of being swept away by crisis.
The following is a listing of basic statistics compiled between 2016 and 2018 on the teens attending Why Not Youth Centre:
- On average, 60 young people attend Why Not every day that the youth center is open
- 35% of the group identifies as Native (status or non-status)
- Assist an average of two youth every week who are experiencing suicidal thoughts with safety planning and long-term supports
- 50% of our youth population is mobile, living in 3 or more places each year
- A young person receives crisis support at Why Not at least once every 45 minutes
- We serve more than 210 meals each week
- 80% of the youth centre attendees visit most days that we are open
- 94% of youth centre attendees have attended for more than 6 months
Funding & Board of Directors
Why Not is a registered charity without government funding. The Youth Centre is funded by a blend of income sources. These include annual fundraisers, a donor base of over 200 annual private donors, and small to medium sized short-term grants from foundations including but not limited to Ontario Trillium Foundation, Brant Community Foundation, City of Brantford Grants, and United Way Community Impact Grants.
The re-Source Thrift Shop is a social enterprise run by volunteers in order to generate revenue for local charities. Why Not is very thankful to be one of the three main recipients for the store. Please consider donating your gently used furniture and household items to the store and check out what they have to offer at 320 North Park St, Unit 2, Brantford, Ontario; Mon-Fri: 10am to 5pm + Sat: 10am to 3pm.
Why Not’s dynamic board of directors includes long-term Brantford residents, entrepreneurs, academics, and social service representatives. They work with the staff team to ensure that Why Not continues to impact the lives of local youth.