By Isaac Olson
It took a number of years, but Head & Hands has been officially selected as the next inhabitant of the old Benny Chapel which has sat vacant ever since the library moved into its new facility.
On October 5, borough councillors approved a 10-year lease agreement with the non-profit organization, permitting the occupancy from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2026. Head & Hands director Andrea Clarke says that agreement includes the option to lease it again for another 10 years.
Now the next step is to renovate the facility, preparing it for the move and then, come mid-summer or early fall of 2017, Head & Hands will have a new home. In total, the renovations and move is estimated to cost around $600,000, said Clarke, noting the organization’s financial backers are still in place and ready to support the cause.
“The next step for us right now is to finalize our designs for the space and getting an idea of what the construction project is going to look like,” said Clarke, who described the council’s agreement approval as “wonderful.”
The new location will be a stone’s throw from its partnering organization, Carrefour jeuness emploi NDG. It is an accessible building, centrally located in NDG with plenty of nearby services. At 287.23 square meters, the new space is also considerably larger than the organization’s principle location on Sherbrooke St.
“This project is going to allow us to have a space that is much more physically accessible and that will have the young parents’ program in the same space as a lot of the individual services,” she said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for the organization to offer deeper support to our clients.”
Since 1970, Head & Hands has been committed to the physical and mental health of “our community’s youth,” according the organization’s website. The organization offers a wide range of services, such as medical clinics and workshops on legal rights, safer drug use, babysitting and more.
|The old Benny Chapel in NDG on January 29, 2015. Future home of Head & Hands. Photo: Isaac Olson|