Dr. Ursula Luitingh. (Contributed)

Raising money for youth wellness

For The Love Of Youth takes place Feb. 9

For Dr. Ursula Luitingh, the Youth Wellness Centre is near and dear to her heart.

The Maple Ridge doctor is one of the first clinic doctors to work for the centre since its inception, now known as Foundry Ridge Meadows.

Dr. Luitingh is chair of The Love Of Youth, a fundraiser for Foundry, a one-stop-shop where young people between the ages of 12 and 24 can access services for mental health, primary care, substance use, peer support or employment support.

Dr. Luitingh explained that before the Youth Wellness Centre, the system was confusing for those children and youth who needed to access programs. The programs were scattered throughout the community and even outside of it, and wait lists were long.

So Dr. Luitingh and a group of like-minded individuals working with child and youth mental health created an action team. At first they came out with a resource guide. Then they started talking about a clinic.

To open a clinic the way they had envisioned it would have cost $300,000.

“We decided to skinny down to what is a realistic thing to take what seems to be impossible to making it possible,” explained Dr. Luitingh.

At first, they were able to raise $130,000 and the City of Maple Ridge gave them space to operate out of the Greg Moore Youth Centre one day a week in the downtown core.

The clinic has now evolved to being open five days a week and is now located in the old East Care Clinic beside the Frogstone Grill.

Renovations will be starting soon in the space to transform it into what Foundry B.C. really looks like.

All of the youth who have accessed the clinic are between the ages of 12 and 18 and most for mental health and substance use issues. Since September of last year the clinic has seen close to 300 youth.

Currently, the clinic offers counselling services, and there are options for sexual health. There is a GP available and a psychiatrist, and a coordinator helps clients navigate into whatever programs they need to access. A new psychiatrist has just been hired at the clinic.

“Everything is under one roof,” said Dr. Luitingh.

“I just feel like I can give them hope for them and their family.”

The Love Of Youth is being billed as a dress-to-impress affair set up like a cabaret, instead of a typical sit-down dinner.

There will be a Living Red Carpet as people arrive and on which they can take photographs with friends and colleagues.

Flashy LED-lit cocktail tables and benches will be scattered around the room instead of the traditional assigned round-table seating. There will be stilt walkers, LED dancers, a laser light show and a dance floor, where a DJ will be spinning the tunes until the end of the night.

Drinks will be flowing from LED bars with the option to own your own flashy LED glass.

There will be 13 vintage chairs auctioned at the event, all original pieces by local artists.

All funds raised by this event will be matched by a generous donor and will go towards supporting the Youth Wellness Centre, which will soon be re-branded Foundry Ridge Meadows.

The goal for the event is $100,000 to fund new building costs, and counselling services, including anxiety, addiction and depression, as well as youth, parent and caregiver support groups. Every dollar raised at the event will be matched up to $250,000 by the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 at Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, 18799 Airport way.

• For more information go to For the Love Of Youth at Eventbrite.

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