Community donation and support save North Sydney youth centre

With a simple gesture, some community good will was shared with operators of a youth centre that has been struggling to survive.

"I'm relieved. It's been a tough 16 months. Most volunteer organizations have had a tough year and a half. It's been difficult," says Paul Ratchford, the director of the Clifford Street Youth Centre.

The Clifford Street Youth Centre in North Sydney has been a safe haven for at-risk youth for the last 14 years, but during the pandemic, it was in danger of closing.

"I'd be pretty upset because the youth centre is my second home. I can always go there if I need help or someone to talk too," says 12-year-old Miranda Holly, a member of the youth centre.

Over the weekend they held a fundraising carwash, which Ratchford knew had raised about $8,000.

But on Wednesday, when they went to receive the cheque at a local car dealership, the amount was much more, $13,660.

"To be able to throw a couple of surprises towards Paul and Clifford Street Youth Centre goes a long way at a time when people need that extra support," says Brad Jacob, the general manager of Colbourne Auto.

The youth centre provides a variety of free programs for children aged four to 18 and operates on a budget of $30,000 a year.

Members of the community have been stepping up with a GoFundMe page that has a goal of $10,000.

Ratchford says with very little government funding, they need all the help they can get.

"It's made a significant difference, it really has. It gives me hope for the new year and for the new people coming behind me to help out," added Ratchford.

A lifeline for a youth centre desperately in need of one, with hopes it will be able to continue serving young people in its community for years to come.