By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Bashaw Star
Just about every organization in the province of Alberta has had to make changes over the last year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bashaw Youth Drop In Foundation is no exception, with the pandemic causing a drastic shift in how operations are conducted.
“COVID has been tough on us,” said Leanne McCarroll, president of the foundation board. “We haven’t really been able to have our regular programming face-to-face, but we are doing our best through virtual and online.”
Shortening their hours some, the foundation is currently open from Monday to Thursday, 3:30 to 6 p.m. Limited numbers of youth are allowed into the facility on a drop in basis; however, with most youth staying within their cohorts numbers are down significantly in-person, though the online programming has been having good participation.
“We’re following public health act regulations,” said McCarroll.
“If kids came in, we’d offer face-to-face, but kids are limited to their cohorts. We are accepting kids to come in on drop-in.”
The foundation is a long-time member of the community, serving youth between the ages of five and 18 for over twenty years.
When the foundation is fully operational, they offer a variety of safety and cultural awareness programming, homework helps and tutoring, a creative café, arts and crafts, kids’ cooking and a few different summer fun activities. Youth of all ages are encouraged to volunteer as well, though due to the pandemic that program has been suspended until restrictions ease.
“We are working on some summer programs,” said McCarroll.
“They should be out by June, and they will be advertised.”
If the restrictions allow, summer programs could include day trips to the Calgary Zoo, Calaway Park or museums in the province — all activities that the group has done in the past.
“We haven’t been able to plan any of that stuff over the last year,” said McCarroll.
“We have in the past; COVID has been tough.”
The Bashaw Youth Drop In Foundation held their annual general meeting on April 26. Due to the pandemic, it was held in a virtual forum, via Zoom. Due to the unpredictability of the current health restrictions, not much was said at the meeting, though McCarroll did address the board.
“We thanked our kids that came in or watched us online,” said McCarroll.
“We thanked the board members for their support and thanked the community for its support through their donations.”
The foundation is funded through a variety of government grants, corporate sponsorships, some personal donations and a variety of fundraising activities, when allowed, and is governed by a six-member board of directors. Day-to-day operation is overseen by an executive director, Angela Richardson.
“Our executive director does everything for us,” said McCarroll.