A hot meal, a safe place to hang out, and a much-needed ‘lift in life’

In Ontario, Sarnia’s HUB offers at-risk youth the support services to get back on their feet

Since he turned 14, Nick has lived on the street, quit school, couch-surfed at friends’ apartments, battled addiction, and bunked at homeless shelters.

Hats off to the HUB—because Nick and his girlfriend Taylor have left that life behind.

“Without the HUB, I would not be sober, we wouldn’t have found a place to live, have a nurse practitioner, or be enrolled at Lambton College,” Nick recently told First Monday, a news media outlet in Sarnia, Ontario.

“Not everyone has supportive parents and family, so where do you go for help or direction when you can’t ask your parents?” he said. “You can’t show that kind of vulnerability on the street.”

A collaborative project involving 36 community partners, the HUB offers a centralized, safe space in Sarnia where youths aged 16 through 24 find a hot meal, a shower, laundry facilities and access to resources that can get them back on their feet.

Addiction counsellors, housing and social workers, health care professionals, mental health supports, and other social services staff pay regular visits to the HUB, located in St. Luke’s Church, to help at-risk youth rediscover a sense of community.

The HUB drop-in, fully staffed by trained representatives from Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, a local non-profit, opened in February 2017. In its first year of operation, the HUB had served more than 4,000 hot meals, provided food bank services more than 3,300 times, and served nearly 250 youths who made more than 4,800 total visits.

“These are wraparound services that we all had growing up, and that we basically take for granted. A lot of the youth we see don’t have the support of families,” says Carrie McEachran, executive director of Sarnia-Lambton Rebound.

“They can check in, they can get a hot meal, and they can have all their needs met,” she adds, “with service providers helping them to get that lift in life and move forward.”

Enbridge is committed to enhancing quality of life in the communities where we operate. In 2016, we invested more than $4.6 million across Ontario in community-strengthening initiatives, and our employee-powered 2017 United Way campaigns in the province raised about $1.6 million to help sustain community outreach, poverty reduction, and educational initiatives.

Enbridge recently donated $5,000 to the HUB to fund ongoing operations.

“The HUB is so much more than just resources. It’s a safe place to go where you can be yourself, and be accepted without judgment,” Nick told First Monday. “I can talk to the people here, and they understand me. There’s a real sense of community here.”