By Mark Tarnovetsky
Colleen MacAlister built her dream upon a solid foundation.
She helped start Foundations, a youth centre located at a storefront in downtown Madoc, offering a safe environment where local youth could receive a hot meal.
She started out working in a warehouse electrical wholesale company in Belleville in 1986. MacAlister worked her way up to a manager position over a span of 14 years.
In 1995, Colleen had different aspirations. She began the legal proceedings required to create Foundations. The next year, the Foundations storefront property in Madoc was purchased. Eager to help, MacAlister worked the front lines, sharing hot meals and a positive environment with the local youth who attended.
MacAlister was responsible for Foundation’s survival during its early years, seeking out like-minded members of the community for donations. Foundations is made possible by “people that care, that really want to help provide a safe place for young people, and make sure that they have something to eat, something to drink, they contribute,” MacAlister says.
Tom Simpson, deputy reeve of Centre Hastings, has been involved with Foundations since its origins.
“I’m a very big supporter of Foundations. It’s well-needed by our community.” Simpson personally volunteered time and donated money to the youth centre. Three years ago, he co-ordinated the local high school Centre Hastings Secondary School program Renovation and Restoration, inviting students to help with renovations of the Foundations storefront.
He called it an “opportunity to improve the unit,” as well as “an opportunity to have the students learn skills.”
After 15 years of working at the Madoc storefront, MacAlister is looking into the near future. She hopes to receive enough donations to purchase a home property in Marmora and open its doors to young girls in need of somewhere to live.
“Right now, we’re looking for partners who will consider working with us on a regular basis, monthly. We’re looking for people who believe in our vision and what we’re doing and if we get 20 people with 20 dollars a month, that’s going to pay one of our rents. “
Another source of donations comes from hosting events. MacAlister is organizing a dinner event in Madoc in February “geared toward family” after the long weekend.
“Monkfest,” a Christian-themed music festival near Marmora, is also taking place. During the summer months, Foundations will host a peace camp inviting local youth from the Madoc, Tweed, Marmora area and abroad.
“I see the future of Foundations as continuing and growing.”