Second Champions Centre in negotiations for Ponoka

Talks of a second Champion’s Centre in Ponoka, specifically for women, are almost at a conclusion.

  • Jan. 6, 2010 7:00 a.m.

By Jasmine Franklin

What started as a housing centre for men to help support and overcome various challenges has spread to a new demographic — women.

Ponoka will be the first town to operate such a rooming home.

Talks of a second Champion’s Centre in Ponoka, specifically for women, are almost at a conclusion, and Jeff Hanger, executive manager of the centre, said there’s a 90 per cent chance this home will be built.

“There has been approval from the national board and negotiations with the landlord are being discussed currently,” Hanger said. “However, we still need $3,000 to $5,000 for set-up costs.”

The house would support four to six women and serve as a part-time living centre. A location has not yet been finalized but Hanger couldn’t be more excited about the home. Hanger said donations of items such as sheets, towels, furniture and monetary donations are needed.

“I cannot wait,” he said. “This is going to be a major leap for the Champion’s Centre and for Ponoka.”

Ponoka will be the first town to have two Champion’s Centres and the current centre will become the national head office.

“We, the national board of the Champion’s Centres are excited to open our first women’s centre in Ponoka,” said Vigil Lawrence, national board chairman. “Ponoka is where we opened our first men’s centre in Alberta seven years ago. We have been aware of a need for a women’s facility for some time and we are pleased to be moving in this direction. We hope that in the next few months we will be able to offer a facility with a homelike atmosphere for women who have difficulty finding suitable and affordable accommodation.”

The centres house people with barriers that range from mental disabilities to lack of skills. They provide the tenants with hot meals, financial budgeting assistance, medication distribution and teach life skills such as personal hygiene and healthy living. Tenants are charged rent and are expected to take on household responsibilities such as maintaining tidy rooms.

“These skills they are gaining are simple basic assets to everyday living,” Hanger said. “We aren’t just creating citizens, we are creating family.”

There are four Champion’s Centres in the province: Medicine Hat, Brooks, Edmonton and Ponoka.

“We’ve been planning for this centre for a long time,” Hanger said. “We just had to wait for the right opportunity.”

In a battle with Alberta Health Services in October, the Champion’s Centre was threatened with closure. But after hard work and re-construction of rooms as well as installment of a fire sprinkler system, the centre fought to survive.

For more information on the Champion’s Centre visit www.thechampionscentre.ca Donations can be dropped off at the Champion’s Centre at 5104 51 Ave. For additional information, questions can be directed to Hanger at (403) 783-6708.