DSYTC celebrates grand opening

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – For the last few years a beacon of hope grew out of the soil along the Carp Road Corridor, and on Thursday (May 23) all those involved with its creation celebrated the grand opening of the state-of-the-art Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (DSYTC) with a ribbon cutting and tour of the facility expected to save countless young lives starting in just a couple of weeks.

Nearly 100 people gathered at the beautiful new facility located at 1895 Bradley Side Rd. for speeches and tours celebrating the multi-year project that will start housing youth in need in just a short couple of weeks.

It was the culmination of just under two years of construction, and many years of fundraising (which continues to this day) to bring dearly departed philanthropist Dave Smith’s vision to reality.

A photo of the new centre.
The new DSYTC brings all the clients and staff under one beautiful building. Photo by Jake Davies

While Smith was only present in spirit, there were several others who have given their blood, sweat and tears for the last several years to make this project a reality. And of course there were lots of tears as well.

Absolutely everyone involved with the project had either a personal connection to one of Ottawa’s greatest fundraisers or to a youth in desperate need of the services the new DSYTC will provide.

“It’s a beautiful day because we all got up to see it,” Dokis First Nation Chief John Henri Commanda, who opened the ceremony with a land acknowledgement, said. “Everything else is a bonus.”

The state-of-the-art facility, funded by the Government of Ontario ($16 million) and generous community donors, brings all DSYTC clients and staff together under one roof, enabling better collaboration and delivery of life-saving programs and services.

It also expands treatment capacity by 25 per cent, helping to improve access and reduce wait times.

Ottawa Police Service (OPS) deputy Chief and DSYTC board chair Steve Bell was thrilled to be witnessing the grand opening of “this absolutely incredible building.”

“I’m humbled and grateful,” Bell said. “It’s a pivotal moment when hope becomes reality. I’m truly and deeply grateful for Dave Smith and all he has done. I’ve seen firsthand the transformative powers when the proper resources and effort is put towards those struggling with mental health and addiction issues. This wonderful new building means we can offer enhanced services to even more young people and their families from across the province.”

A view of a common room.
The new DSYTC provides a comfortable space for youth going through mental health and/or addiction challenges looking to make a change in their life. Courtesy the DSYTC

Established in 1993, the DSYTC is a non-profit, community-based agency dedicated to helping youth between the ages of 13 and 21 overcome substance use, mental health and other related challenges to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Since 1993, the DSYTC has helped more than 20,000 families deal with those issues.

“It’s an emotional day seeing all the faces that been with us for literally the last 10 years,” DSYTC executive director Mike Beauchesne said. “Seeing the warmth and the colours. This is where stigma, shame and hopelessness are dropped at the door. This will help young people and their families for decades to come.”

Last fall, husband and wife philanthropists Lawrence Greenspon and Angela Lariviere signed on as DSYTC Village of Hope fundraising campaign co-chairs. Greenspon says, while the doors will be opening soon, there is still fundraising work to do.

“This place is a work of architectural art,” Greenspon said. “Young people learn what they live. When young people live with encouragement, they gain confidence.”

Greenspon says the campaign still needs to raise $1.5 million to finish paying for the centre.

“The capital campaign will continue until we meet that goal,” he said before introducing DSYTC Director of Philanthropy Cindy Manor. “Her unwavering dedication, persistence and huge giving heart, helped make this dream a reality.”

Manor first heard of the DSYTC when her own son Hunter needed the services of the centre for his own struggles with mental health and addiction. The DSYTC was a lifesaver for both Hunter and Cindy.

Her speech was one of several emotional speeches that day as those who helped build the DSYTC began to realize the enormity of their accomplishment.

A photo of the front hall.
The DSYTC front entrance is welcoming with soft lighting and high ceilings. Courtesy the DSYTC

“Hope is what it provided me and my son,” Cindy said. “It has been the most rewarding journey of my career. To the naysayers, I say we proved you wrong. We achieved and we did it.”

Cindy recognized that all the DSYTC can do is provide an opportunity, it is up to each client to cross the bridge.

“It’s their journey,” Cindy said. “They have to save themselves and all we can do is support them. We want to ensure our young clients benefit from a full spectrum of services and prosocial activities while they are in treatment. With $1.5 million left to raise, we are so grateful for our past Village of Hope donors and look to future donors to help put us over the top.”

Young artist Alexandra Rodrigues, a past DSYTC client and now a professional artist, spoke as one of those young people were able to save themselves thanks to the support of the youth centre.

She remembers the day she checked in on Nov. 17, 2016.

“It was going to be the first day of the rest of my life,” Rodrigues said. “I didn’t have a lot going on in my life before that.

Rodrigues says her life before that was a series of mental health and drug-related challenges due to an inability to cope, communicate and interact. She said, among other things, her time at the DSYTCH built confidence and repaired relationships.

“It you work on anything with positivity and hope, you can change anything,” Rodrigues said. “Dave Smith, I owe you my life.”

West Carleton Online has covered the DSYTC facility in Carp long before shovels even went in the ground, and you can find that coverage here.

For more information on the DSYTC, its addition program or to donate to the Village of Hope campaign, click here.

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