Following the previous post about social inclusion, Downtown Moncton Centre-ville Inc (DMCI), in partnership with the YMCA Reconnect, would like to highlight a special summer program called Downtown Ambassadors.
The YMCA Reconnect itself offers outreach services and case management to individuals experiencing homelessness. The Downtown Ambassador program consists of two employees who connect with locals, tourists, businesses, and vulnerable people in the downtown area during the summer months. Their role is to observe and report their findings, as well as to provide outreach. They often carry water and granola bars for those in need and act as a pillar of communication between all the members of the community.
The 2019 Ambassadors, Brenna and Lindsay, have been walking downtown every Tuesday through Friday from 11a.m. until 7p.m., as well as on Saturdays from 9a.m. until 2p.m. Despite their young age – 19 and 20, respectively – they have exceptional skills when it comes to making a connection with someone, no matter their social status.
“A lot of people just want someone to listen,” says Lindsay. “You come to realize that even though some of these people are living entirely different realities than you are, [we’re all] still part of the same community.”
Brenna and Lindsay also say they’ve learned a lot from their experience this summer as Downtown Ambassadors. Both were given first aid certification as well as non-violent crisis intervention certification.
“I’ve enjoyed the experience so far. It’s good to meet people in the community, people that you might not engage in conversation with. […] You get to know a different side of Moncton and its community.” – Brenna
Kristen Seely, the coordinator of the Downtown Ambassador program at the YMCA in Moncton, says that the want people to know that “Moncton is a city for everybody, not just everybody with an address or everybody with a moderate income.”
The Downtown Ambassadors also have an ongoing partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Two employees from the CMHA join the Downtown Ambassadors twice a week to meet with the vulnerable population to provide services on-site.
This unique program is the only one of its kind east of Toronto and is among one of the three only outreach programs that exist in Canada. The YMCA Reconnect and its Downtown Ambassadors program has had a large impact on our community and our city as a whole. We encourage all members of the community to interact with and applaud the Downtown Ambassadors for all the incredible work they do.
YMCA Reconnect: Building healthy communities.
About the author :
Carmen LeBlanc is a writer from Cheticamp, Nova Scotia. Her blog Tiny Adventures Journey focuses on the environment, minimalism and travel. You can subscribe to her blog by following the link below, and you can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.