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Langley City gets update on Project Reach Out
One year after Project Reach Out came to the Langleys, executive director Jerome Bouvier returned to council on Monday, to provide an update on the success of the mobile teen outreach project.
Based in the Tri-Cities, and operated by PoCoMo Youth Services Society, Project Reach Out expanded to Langley City and parts of the Township last autumn.
Every Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. until midnight, the organization’s bus makes stops around the community, where teens have a tendency to gather. Over the past 12 months, Bouvier said, the vehicle has become a familiar and welcome sight, drawing between 20 and 25 youths who stop by for everything from simple conversation with a caring adult, to warm clothing, hygiene products, information or something to eat.
“There is trust and relationships being built,” said Bouvier.
And it has become a two-way street, he said. Rather than drive around looking for teens, Langley youths regularly contact the bus through phone calls and texts or via Facebook, to let staff know where to find them on any given weekend.
The numbers are climbing steadily as kids become familiar with the bus, which is a huge prop in itself, he noted. With its sides painted brightly, the vehicle attracts a lot of attention.
“Young people are grateful for the service. They’re glad it comes where they are,” said Bouvier.
As well, staff visit local businesses and hand out cards. That way, if local merchants see a group of youths they are concerned about, they can contact Project Reach Out staff and let them know.
The biggest challenge Bouvier faces, he said, is to be able to continue providing that support to Langley youth.
“We’re looking for champions — people who can help connect us with resources — with businesses and potential donors.”
Both in-kind and financial donations are appreciated, he noted.
At the moment, Project Reach Out has the resources to continue until late March or early April, “depending on how resourceful we can be,” said Bouvier.
There is a wish list on the organization’s web page, in the Reach Out Langley section.
It’s crucial, said Bouvier, that the outreach service to Langley youths continues because the need won’t go away.
“They’re struggling to make it to Friday; they don’t have a five-year plan.”
For more information, go to pocomo.org.