Bunker staff Elden Shore, Alycia Hildebrand and Kevin Hildebrand are like a family to the kids.
A local youth drop-in centre will be receiving the P.W. Enns Not-for-Profit award on April 20 for their charity work.
The Bunker Youth Ministry offers a safe environment for youth in the Winkler area. The drop-in has three paid staff, around 35 volunteers and sees around 100 kids drop by every week.
“It’s basically a place for young people who don’t feel like they have a place to fit,” executive director Kevin Hildebrand said. “We’re a place where kids who feel like they’re outcasts, kids who feel like they’re on the fringe of society, this is where they can all come hang out and be who they are and not be judged or ridiculed.”
“We are their family,” Hildebrand said. “They’re our family. I love connecting with the kids. I love their energy. I love their excitement. They energize me, and I love that.”
Hildebrand said the award is more about the kids and the value of the centre than glory and success. “For me, this is an acknowledgment from the community that this place has value,” he said. “If this place has value, the kids have value. I don’t look at it as we’ve done something great and we’re being recognized for it. This is some validation and some acknowledgment of the kids in this community.”
The Bunker doesn’t measure success by how many kids show up to the programs they put together. “If we sit down and have a good, solid, meaningful talk with one of them and we get them to start making some good life choices and we see that over the next few months, that’s success,” Hildebrand said. “Some small way that we can help them make better decisions to make their life better, that’s how I gauge success. Being able to see positive change in a messed up, broken life, that’s success.”
The youth drop-in centre has been running since 1984. “It has a long history in the community,” Hildebrand said. “It’s been a Winkler youth drop-in centre. Winkler started it, Winkler runs it, they fund it. It definitely belongs to Winkler.”
Looking forward, Hildebrand said their main priority is to keep trying to continue meeting the needs of Winkler, but will take any opportunities to grow. “If meeting those needs means we set up another drop-in centre somewhere and we take more kids there, so be it,” he said. “If we could do it again, if we had the opportunity and God leads it in that direction, that’s what we’ll do.”
The Bunker will receive their award at the P.W. Enns Business Awards on April 20 at 7:30 p.m. The ceremony takes place at the Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church, and features keynote speaker David Chilton, known for his appearances as a judge on Dragon’s Den. Five local businesses will be receiving awards.