History of Cornerstone Youth Centre
Back in the early 1990's, the little bungalow across the parking lot from Crossroads Community Church in Mayland Heights got its start as a youth centre. It was called Foundation Youth Centre and was run by the youth pastor, Dan Ikenouye.
In the fall of 1993, discussions began between the church and Chuck Harper, an employee of Youth For Christ, to help expand the youth centre's ministry.
In January 1994, the youth centre became Cornerstone Youth Centre under the guidance of Chuck, and was a partnership between Crossroads Community Church and Youth For Christ. Chuck started with just three volunteers – Henry Esau, Gillian Klingvall, and Mary Little – and officially opened on May 1, 1994.
Back then, Cornerstone was open two afternoons and one evening per week. It was a very busy place when open, catering to junior high and high school youth.
Chuck grew the volunteer base and started a peer volunteer program to enable church youth to take leadership roles at Cornerstone. Chuck was at the helm for several years until a combination of demanding financial challenges, building codes, and other changes led to his moving on in the summer of 1999.
Today Chuck is the Founder and Chaplain at North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy in Vernon, BC. Cornerstone is still a source of pride to Chuck today and we certainly owe him a debt of gratitude.
Our next director was Jeff Germo who took over in 1999. One of the first things to happen was a major renovation in 2000 that saw new flooring, new windowed walls that created a safer and more open space, and a new “snack shack.” The basement was also renovated to provide additional space and a second bathroom.
Jeff managed to keep Cornerstone running until fund-raising challenges arose, and he moved on in the summer of 2002.
Today Jeff is the lead pastor at Campbell River Baptist Church in Campbell River, BC. Cornerstone would like to thank Jeff Germo for his years of service to the youth of Mayland Heights.
After the summer of 2002, Cornerstone was closed for two years until a new director could be found. The search committee needed to find someone to handle the daunting task of running a youth centre while finding enough funding to keep the doors open long term.
During this down time, some renovations happened outside – the former leaf-and-garbage-catching hedgerow was replaced by a lawn which helped to give Cornerstone a more open and inviting atmosphere. Cornerstone wasn't forgotten; the youth in the area would inquire as to when it would be open again.
The search committee found their man in Herb White.
Herb re-opened Cornerstone in the fall of 2004, running five days per week and catering to junior high youth. The volunteer base had to be sizable to handle five days a week, but the need was met.
Cornerstone's profile in the community also grew under Herb's guidance, with partnerships with schools and city resources. Enough funding was raised each year to keep the bills paid.
But it was at times a financial struggle, and in the summer of 2011 it seemed that Cornerstone may need to close again if but for a short time. However, the Prosser Foundation came through with a $35,000 grant to help keep the doors open.
It was hardships turning into opportunities like that which boosted our profile even more. We also received the support from individuals in the form of service, such as help with garage sales and open houses, and even a brand new floor in 2013.
One of Herb's initiatives was our Music Room, which proved enormously popular with the youth. The “At The Corner” band of Cornerstone youth even managed to win a local contest.
Herb kept at it for an unprecedented ten years, finally stepping down in the summer of 2014 for health reasons – but he left Cornerstone in excellent shape for our next director. Thanks, Herb, for all you did for Cornerstone and letting us still be able to positively impact the lives of youth today.
Jane Wachowich took over in late 2014 and under her tutelage, Cornerstone enjoyed a surge in its community profile as well as funding, positioning Cornerstone to dream big. This included the decision to make Cornerstone Youth Centre non-denominational to include all religious/ethnic backgrounds.
In November 2015, we opened our new outdoor Sport Court which has become an attraction to community youth.
Over the 2015 Christmas break, the Murray Todd family did major renovations and in their Tear Down The Walls project, opened up the upstairs into a larger, better-functioning main room. In addition, the Todd's created a new, much larger music room in the basement.
And in the summer of 2016, Cornerstone received a brand new kitchen which has enabled us to host popular breakfast and lunch programs.
Jane left Cornerstone in excellent financial shape and with a glowing community profile. Jane moved on in the spring of 2017, and Cornerstone will never forget all she has done for us in her years with us, and we thank her from the bottom of our hearts for her generosity, sacrifice, and service.
Our current Executive Director, Jeff Gray, came to us in the summer of 2016. After being one of two ED's for Cornerstone for a time, Jeff took over as sole ED in the spring of 2017.