Niagara College kicked off this year’s Many Hands project this evening, with a special ceremony at the Upper Deck Youth Centre in Vineland.
The Upper Deck Youth Centre is the recipient of the 17th annual Many Hands project, which sees a local not-for-profit agency undergo a series of renovations performed mainly by students in Niagara College’s construction programs, coordinated and supported by students in NC’s Event Management (Graduate Certificate) program.
Thursday’s ceremony marked the official start of the project, which will see a range of physical improvements to the Upper Deck facilities. Joining the Niagara College faculty and students involved in the project were staff and clients of the Upper Deck Youth Centre, Lincoln mayor Bill Hodgson, Niagara College President Dan Patterson and Dave DiFelice, vice president of customer service and operations at Canadian Tire Financial Services, which has acted as lead sponsor of the Many Hands project since its inception. DiFelice kicked off the project by providing a $5,000 donation to the Many Hands project on behalf of CTFS.
“We’re very honoured to be part of the 17th annual Many Hands project with Niagara College,” said DiFelice. “Canadian Tire Financial Services is committed to strengthening and supporting our communities and making a difference in the areas in which our employees live and work. We’ve been supporting Many Hands since the beginning, and we love the fact that the program meets the needs of local organizations while enhancing the skills of all the students involved.”
The Upper Deck Youth Centre is an inclusive facility that provides a welcoming environment for young people, where they can receive assistance, interact with other young people, and be mentored by trained adults who help them reach their full potential.
“Since we were chosen for the Many Hands project, there’s been a buzz in Lincoln,” said Glen Sparks, executive director of the Upper Deck Youth Centre. “Any time a major partner signs on to move our youth centre forward, it encourages our local youth and our faithful monthly partners, and shows that our centre will continue for years to come. We’re already looking forward to the results of the project being revealed in April, 2014.”
Also among those attending the ceremony was Katryna McKenna, a graduate of Niagara College’s Community and Justice Service program, and the president of the Niagara College Student Administrative Council for the past two years. McKenna was involved in the centre during her teens – including programs such as camp, girls group, a service program and regular evening drop-ins, and she credits Upper Deck as being a positive experience in her life.
“The Upper Deck Youth Centre played a very influential role when I was growing up,” said McKenna. “The staff and volunteers there made the experience worth coming back to each and every week. Having the opportunity to be part of its events and activities gave me a great appreciation for the organization, and I wouldn’t have had these experiences otherwise.”
The Many Hands Project is a hands-on component of Niagara College’s Event Management Graduate Certificate program. Students are required to plan, develop, co-ordinate and execute a renovation of a local community non-profit organization. Fundraising, volunteer management, technical operations, hospitality and public relations are the responsibility of individual committees comprised of students. Since 1998, the Many Hands Project has supported 16 not-for-profit organizations through renovation and landscaping projects, which enhance program and service delivery.
“The Many Hands project is a shining example of how we can provide exceptional applied learning opportunities for our students in a way that benefits our community,” said Patterson. “Not only are we teaching relevant skills, we’re impressing upon our students the importance of using these skills to enhance the lives of those in our community.”
The renovations to the Upper Deck Youth Centre facility will include floor replacement, concrete repair, washroom updates, painting, the installation of new kitchen cabinets and counters, and the construction of a storage shed.
“We’re very excited to continue to work together to reach our goal of improving the Upper Deck Youth Centre,” said April Tyrrell, a student in the Event Management (Graduate Certificate) program and student chair of the Many Hands Project. “The Centre offers young people a safe place to grow physically, mentally and socially, and we look forward to updating the facility, allowing Upper Deck to further its programming and offer a more appealing space.”
Event Management students will also support the project by running a series of fundraising events, including a trivia night, soup festival, fashion show, concert and “Amazing-Race”-style competition. For details on the fundraisers and the Many Hands Project, watch http://www.niagaracollege.ca/manyhands, or download the Niagara College Event Management App, which is available via iTunes.
The agencies that benefit from the Many Hands Project are selected by the project committee, and must be not-for-profit, involved in the provision of a community-based service in the Niagara Region, and be willing to commit agency resources to the project.
Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit NiagaraCollege.ca.