After 21 years

ECYA closes doors due to lack of funding

By Lois Ann Dort    

CANSO – The Eastern Communities Youth Association will shut its doors for good on October 31; a great loss for the community of Canso and the youth that call it home.

The ECYA has been active in the community of Canso and surrounding areas for the past 21 years (incorporated for 20 of those years). Over that time, it has provided youth with activities including the annual haunted house, adventures in art, summer camps and a place to hang out with friends after school. It also provided important programming such as driver’s education, babysitting courses, and healthy relationship workshops. ECYA Chairperson Janet Delorey spoke to The Journal Sunday about the loss of the organization.

Delorey, along with fellow board member Susan O’Handley, have been with the ECYA since its inception. The kernel of the idea for a youth-focused group began with the local RCMP detachment, said Delorey, as a means to keep youth off the streets.

In the beginning the focus was on high school students but as the population changed, activities were directed to younger children, from age seven and up. Some programming and activities were led by teenagers in recent years and the organization created opportunities for work experience over the summer months for many area students.

Speaking to the decision to close, Delorey said, “The funding is pretty well shot. There is no core funding.”

The organization has been running off of program grants that pay for specific programs but not for the cost of building rental, utilities and salary for the one permanent employee the organization employees. Delorey said the board has been making those ends meet with weekly Chase the Ace events that have slowly dwindled in revenue.

“It’s sad to come to this after so many years…We all feel bad that this has folded after 20 years—it was a wonderful run for sure. I hate to see it closed,” said Delorey, noting that she continued to serve on the board long after her own children had grown up because she thought it was a worthwhile project in the community.

Last year board members contacted MLA Lloyd Hines’ office which resulted in a meeting where they were told that the MLA’s office would look into potential sources of funding. Delorey said they heard nothing back after the meeting and their own search for new funding avenues was also fruitless.

The doors of the ECYA will officially close at the end of day, October 31. The board will continue to function into the new year to ensure that all outstanding bills are paid.