New Life to Hiawatha Through Helping Hands

June 10, 2024

St.Thomas – It is with great excitement that the YWCA St.Thomas-Elgin announces the acquisition of the property nestled in at 53 Hiawatha Street from previous owner, Elgin Community Mental Health Foundation (ECMHF). Originally built in the 1930’s as a church, followed with ownership by various community service agencies and home to ECMHF for 8 years, this quaint property will continue to serve the community with its new life under YWCA St.Thomas-Elgin umbrella.

“The Foundation purchased the property in 2016 to facilitate its use by CMHA, Elgin Branch for the provision of mental health programs. Over the years, CMHA, Elgin Branch served many residents with a variety of programs supporting mental health needs.  In 2023 CMHA underwent a change in programing and no longer needed the facility. The Foundation reached out in St. Thomas to find an agency that might continue the necessary support services for residents with mental health issues.  It become clear that the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin provides a variety of services and programs to meet various needs of the community. We were pleased that the YWCA enthusiastically saw the potential of the property to provide services to those seeking mental health supports. Our board of directors was pleased to be able to donate this property to YWCA to continue to provide valuable services to the residents of St. Thomas-Elgin,” explains Ken Brooks, President of Elgin Community Mental Health Foundation.

 

Interior remodeling of Hiawatha will likely take place this fall/winter once funding is secured as YWCA wishes to expand their programs and services for women, youth and adults. This location will be the future home of YWCA frontline services along with meeting and community room space.   

“With our main building downtown nearing overcapacity, the timing could not have been better to be gifted a new property for future programs and services. This gift from the Elgin Community Mental Health Foundation was truly a welcomed surprise during a time of need and we are so grateful,” shares Lindsay Rice, Executive Director of YWCA. 

On June 13 members of YWCA and volunteers from the City of St.Thomas will participate in this year’s United Way Elgin Middlesex Day of Caring® Project presented by Libro Credit Union. Through this initiative and many helping hands the exterior of the property will be spruced up, adding perennials and mulch to the gardens, cleaning up the surrounding landscape and giving the siding and deck a spring wash. YWCA appreciates the generosity of the City of St.Thomas staff who will be not only sharing their time and muscles but also donating the mulch for the gardens. Specials thanks to Nature’s Foundation for their donation of soil and delivery of materials.

Rice adds “We are thrilled to be dreaming about the next phase of this property and eager to have YWCA programs and services available at this location. Through the Day of Caring® Project facilitated by United Way Elgin Middlesex and the volunteers to be provided by the City of St.Thomas, we are excited about the beautification of another historic building in the core of our city.”

Mayor Joe Preston equal excitement about the upcoming event, “I’m so pleased to celebrate our City staff in their volunteer work to make a difference in our community so we can build a Brighter Future in St. Thomas. Through their participation in the United Way Elgin Middlesex Day of Caring, our staff have shown their passion for supporting the City extends beyond their day-to-day work. Our community partners, like the YWCA, work hard to ensure our residents and neighbours thrive, and I hope they feel the positive impact of this volunteer work.”

United Way Elgin Middlesex and Libro Credit Union will showcase more than 30 local agencies during Day of Caring® Project as they complete important tasks that fall outside of regular operations for their frontline staff. Be sure to follow along #DayOfCaring #DoGooders to see volunteers get together in this fun-with-a-purpose team building event that makes a huge difference to volunteers, their employers, and agencies’ staff and the people they serve.

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