House Youth Centre calling all alumni for reunion BBQ



By Jolene Perron


“Tracking down 40+ years of people is a very tricky and overwhelming task. Especially since all of the contact information we have for these alumni are the contact information they listed as teenagers.”

House Youth Centre activities coordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart explained since they only have two full-time staff members, the idea for the get-together has taken well over a decade and it’s often been something that’s been put on the back burner but they have finally just decided to go for it. By contacting a few alumni from the 70s and 80s that live in the area, they were able to start a bit of a domino effect and word of mouth has helped them to reach more.

“A lot of our program revolves around the idea of history, tradition and community,” said Vander Vaart. “I think it’s important that our current students get to see that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, they’re part of a ‘family’ that expands across decades.”

It is also equally important, she said, for the alumni to know The House is still around and doing mentoring youth in the exact same fashion they did when they were teenagers. While many things have changed since The House was founded in 1971, the fundamental needs of the youth have not.


The very first Family Reunion BBQ is being hosted at The House September 23 for anyone who was involved in The House during the 70s. Vander Vaart said they are putting together a bunch of fun ways to show off some memories from the 70s, and a portion of the evening will even be dedicated to sitting down together for a traditional House meeting.

“This reunion is the first, but not the last,” said Vander Vaart. “In September 2018 our reunion will be for the alumni from the 80s, in September of 2019 it will be for the 90s alumni, September 2020 for those involved from 2000 t0 2010, and in 2021 everyone will be invited for a massive reunion to celebrate out 50th anniversary.”

Coinciding with these reunions, a couple of The House’s volunteers are kick starting a “senior group” this fall, which will be open to anyone who has ever been involved in The House, may they have graduated in 1971 or 2016. Vader Vaart explained the group will be meeting on the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. for about three or four hours.

“These nights will host a traditional House meeting for anyone looking to reconnect,” said Vander Vaart. “It’s basically an adult version of our youth programs. Our youth program is based on social and emotional health, identity development, and community engagement. The need for thought provoking conversation on these things doesn’t stop when we hit 18.”
Vander Vaart said the goal for both of these initiatives is to reach The House alumni and let them know The House is still here, and everyone is still welcome.

Anyone who is interested in gathering more information about the reunions or the senior group can call The House at 519-736-6811, or e-mail
“At The House, we like to call ourselves a family,” said Vander Vaart. “That family isn’t just your grade level group. It’s 40+ years worth of people who have had their life changed for the better in this building.”

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