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An important local organization is celebrating five very impactful years in the community.
Foundry Kelowna, an integrated mental health clinic for youth aged 12-24 and their families, opened its doors in the fall of 2017.
Since then, more than 4,500 youth and 3,000 families have accessed mental health services at the centre located on Kirschner Road.
“What initially sparked the journey of Foundry Kelowna, was the understanding that there was a gap in reaching young people with mild-to-moderate mental health challenges,” said Mike Gawliuk, CEO of CMHA Kelowna, the operator of Foundry Kelowna.
“We knew then that early intervention and prevention was key to supporting youth in our community.”
When the Kelowna location opened in 2017, it was just the second Foundry location in BC, but that has since changed.
In the past five years, more than 20 Foundry locations have opened throughout the province to offer an array of services to those in need.
That includes mental health and substance use counselling and supports, primary care and social services like access to housing, employment, income and peer supports.
Of course, the need for those services increased with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At Foundry Kelowna, we adapted and expanded services in order to respond to the need during incredible uncertainty,” explained Gawliuk.
“Providing virtual services to youth and families during the pandemic was a mainstay for us in terms of continuing to offer help.”
In 2021, Foundry Kelowna launched Wellness on Wheels, a first-of-its-kind mobile unit that travels throughout the Central Okanagan to offer services for young people in need.
The cornerstones of the Foundry model have been collaboration and partnership, as Gawliuk notes that no one agency can do it all.
“By working together, agencies and service providers in the community have a better chance to make it easier for young people to access care and navigate systems,” he said.
“The pandemic made collaboration much more challenging and we are looking forward to finding better ways to support youth in our community.”
Gawliuk noted that Foundry Kelowna looks forward to many years of working with its partners to support youth and families in the community.