Community drop-in centre opening downtown



By Barb McKay


A community drop-in centre is opening in downtown Kincardine.


The Bridge will open its doors at 746 Queen Street on June 4 and will be open every Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The centre is sharing the space with Bluewater Christian Fellowship, which recently took over the space from MicroAge Basics and will be holding Sunday services there.


Wes Larson, who is opening The Bridge, is a long-time friend of Bluewater pastor Chris Higginson and said it was he who encouraged him to pursue his dream of opening a welcoming community gathering place.


Larson has spent several years volunteering with organizations that help the homeless in Toronto and providing a safe haven for individuals recovering from addictions.


“When I moved up here, I wondered why there wasn’t a community drop-in centre,” he said.


Larson said he often discussed his desire for having such a place in Kincardine with Higginson.


“One day he said to me, ‘You talk about this a lot. Why don’t you write up a business plan?’ The more I thought about it, the more I knew something needed to be done and someone had to lead it, and I realized that person was going to be me.”


Larson put together a business plan and it was at that time that Bluewater Christian Fellowship was looking to move from the Davidson Centre to downtown Kincardine. Higginson offered space in the church for the drop-in centre.


“He wanted the church to be open at all times,” Larson said. “The idea of having the church downtown was to allow the community to have a safe place to come and the drop-in centre was an easy fit.”


Word is spreading that the centre is opening. Larson attended a community meal at the Kincardine Baptist Church last week to hand out information pamphlets and found it was already a topic of conversation.


“I was inundated with questions and people were so excited about it, that they’ll have another place to go,” he said.


Larson said the drop-in centre will be a place where everyone can come to relax, feel welcome and be themselves.


“People can come in and do what they want. It might be just drinking a coffee and reading a newspaper.”


It will also be a place where new friendships can be made and where people can come if they just want or need someone to talk to. Every Monday at noon there will be a luncheon of soup and sandwiches, at no charge, which those who attend can enjoy as a group.


“Everyone, including volunteers, will sit together, like one happy family,” Larson said. “It’s like being in a big country kitchen. It’s like coming home.”


The Bridge is seeking volunteers and a volunteer information session will be held May 7 at The Bridge at 10 a.m. It will be an opportunity for interested volunteers to get to know each other. A police check will be required at no cost to volunteers.


Volunteers will be there to provide company for anyone who drops by the centre and would like someone to talk to or do an activity with, such as play a board game.


Larson said there have already been inquiries about expanding the hours at The Bridge.


“This is about the community and what the community would like to do. That is what will dictate how we grow and use the space.”


The Bridge has not yet obtained its charitable status, but donations can be made through the Bluewater Christian Fellowship. For more information, visit Drop-in at the Bridge on Facebook.