Happenings in Rotary
A ‘second family’ for over 400 young people.
On Monday 25 March, the members of the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat had the privilege of spending just under two hours at the Redcliff Youth Centre (RYC).
The Centre, established in 1990, is on Main Street, in Redcliff. It is a registered charity, and a ‘standalone’, not affiliated to any provincial or national body. It offers a variety of free educational and recreational programs to young people between the ages of 10 and 17 years.
The purpose of holding our Rotary noon meeting at the Centre was to see, ‘feel’, and learn more about this context for youth empowerment and development, to which we made a donation last year, for kitchen equipment.
We were warmly received and hosted by Executive Director Janae Ulrich, Sandra (Youth Support Worker) Hayden (a student), Chris (President of the RYC Board), and three other Board members, Carrie, Danielle and Gary.
What a worthwhile visit! We left the Centre with a better understanding of who they are and what they do, and with a huge appreciation for the quality of this context in which over 400 young people (on average), sign in for at least one activity, per month. Interestingly, about 70% of the 365 young people who are registered with the Centre, are male.
Most of these young people live in Redcliff, but 30% hail from Medicine Hat and a small percentage come from other parts of the Prairie Rose school district. They all attend school.
In this ‘second family’ context, which operates from a strengths-based perspective, the youth are able to relax, be themselves, play pool, make and eat lunches and dinners, connect with positive adult role models, join in a homework program, get help to put a resume together for employment purposes, participate in Teen Group Sessions with Medicine Hat Family Services, enjoy Emotional Support Animal Assisted therapy, and go on field trips to places of interest, including the Medicine Hat College.
Child and Youth Care Counselling (CYCC), Social Work and Nursing Clinical Students from the College attend the Redcliff Youth Centre as their practicum / practical study for hands on learning during their field of study.  Students participate in programs and services, helping to advocate for youth during the time spent with the agency.  CYCC, SW (2-3) students, and the Nursing Clinical Students (8-12) along with their instructor, attend the centre twice a week. The Nursing Students help to host the Annual Wellness Fair, where registered youth are able to obtain free new and gently used clothing, hygiene products, and community resources, while participating in a variety of wellness themed events, such as animal assisted therapy, yoga and team building exercises, all related to the “Needs Assessment” made by the nursing students during their time spent in the Redcliff community and placement agency.  
The staff, Board and volunteers are guided by the following core values and principles:
  • Mentoring, building healthy relationships
  • Inspiring leadership and developing active citizenship qualities, through volunteerism and engagement
  • Promoting and developing youth self-efficacy, building personal growth, and individual esteem
It was good to hear, during question and discussion time, that a fair amount of time is spent on helping the Centre members think about their futures, in terms of post-school education and future vocation.
The facility has undergone major renovations over the past year, costing $68,000. Home Depot Canada Foundation covered the cost AND Team Home Depot spent days at the Centre, doing the actual work. It looks great – an environment in which young people feel comfortable and respected.
Who supports the Redcliff Youth Centre, in addition to the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat? Home Depot Canada Foundation, United Way, Sun City Ford, Suntaira Growers, Servus Credit Union, CIBC, the Town of Redcliff, UFA, the Community Foundation, and others.
What are the biggest challenges? Recruiting Board members, parent participation, and finding money to cover operational costs.
But, as put forward by Janae, “We may not have it all, but together we have it all”. Such a positive, inclusive, message.
Another takeaway for all of us, is this:
Read more about this amazing Youth Development Centre - and how you can get involved - on their website: https://redcliffyouthcentre.com
The Rotary Club of Medicine Hat welcomed two representatives of the Los Amigo's project to our meeting today.  Karl Samuels of the Rotary Club of Lethbridge Sunrise and Michael Henderson of the Rotary Club of Cardston joined us to bring us closer to this project.  Los Amigo's has been operating for about a dozen years, it took a couple off during the pandemic but is now hard at work assembling convoy's of emergency vehicles, which are miled-out or houred-out in Canada, a new home in Mexico.  The Los Amigos Project is an inspiring international service initiative coordinated by the Rotary Club of Lethbridge. Since its inception in 2011, this project has been making a significant impact by repurposing retired service and emergency vehicles for communities around Mazatlan, Mexico. 
Their 2024 trip, which is their 12th group going down leaves on September 29th, for the one week drive to Mexico and then stays for approximately another week to distribute the vehicles, and the additional equipment that can be sent with them, as well as provide some training to the emergency responders who are receiving the equipment.  The fleet for this trip will be 4 fire trucks and 4 hand-i-bus vans.  An example of the donated equipment is shown below, from the town of Fort Macleod, a 1997 Ford pumper.
The program has a cost of approximately $8,000 per vehicle, so the group is obviously looking for donations, both of funds and of vehicles.  They are also looking for drivers, as the two week trip is usually something that retired individuals can accommodate in the schedule with more ease that regular working folks.  A class 5 license, with the "Q" endorsement for air brakes is required.
The group has so far taken 61 vehicles south, and the reception from the municipalities in Mexico is often overwhelming and heart-warming.  Some of the equipment hardly has time to cool off from the drive, as it is put to use almost immediately.
Karl indicated that only one vehicle of the 61 which have been donated so far is no longer working, so that is a great track record.
Karl and Mike were thanked by President Bruce.
This is the guiding mantra of the YMCA – and the Y certainly provides a wide range of contexts, facilities and services, in which this can become a reality for all who use this wonderful, multi-faceted resource – which is proud to have a current membership of 4,600 members, plus many who purchase day passes, attend free events, and rent space.
More statistics:
CEO Sharon Hayward shared that the programs and services of the Down Town Y impacted over 7,100 people over the past year (2022-2023), in Medicine Hat and Brooks, drawing on a budget of $9.6m, and staffed by 200 employees, 23 registered volunteers and 15 event volunteers.
What kind of impact do they aim to have?
When did it all start in Medicine Hat? In the late 1950s, thanks to the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat undertaking a major fundraising campaign. Incorporation followed in 1966.
Child Care: impacted 664 children over the past year.
The Employment Center offered 12 job fairs, attended by 400 job seekers. The Center’s 14 programs assisted 1,344 people in Medicine Hat and Brooks.
The Y’s programs can be divided into three: Community Programs, Day Camps, and Health Fitness and Aquatics.
On the financial front, the Y raised $116,740 last year, through the Strong Kids campaign, capital/greatest area of need, and events, the latter raising $35,961 of the total.
Turning to the future, CEO Sharon spoke about the Y aiming to expand its impact. In what respects? Included are an increase in licenced child care spaces; sustainability in a competitive market; and increased collaboration with the City of Medicine Hat regarding the possibility of a new recreation center in South Ridge. Clearly, funds development is needed and envisaged, to support all these and other expansions.
Go, YMCA, go! We, the Rotary Club of Medicine Hat, are proud to have been instrumental in raising funds for the establishment of the Y and to have been supporters of different initiatives, over the years.
A big thank you to CEO Sharon and all the staff and volunteers, for your dedication and for the spectrum of services you offer, through which you make a significant contribution to promoting the well-being and the development of the potential of residents, at all stages in the life cycle, in our communities.
Upcoming Events
April 2024
Medicine Hat

We meet In Person & Online
Mondays at 11:45 a.m.
Medicine Hat Lodge
1051 Ross Glen Dr SE
Medicine Hat, AB T1B 3T8
The Rotary Club of Medicine Hat has returned to meeting in person. Our first meeting of every month is a ZOOM business meeting. Check the club calendar, which is usually up to date for our meeting locations and program.
Club Contact Info
Rotary Club of Medicine Hat
PO Box 1058
Medicine Hat, AB, T1A 7H1