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This article was published 10/6/2012 (3340 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A unique inner-city youth housing and recreational project is getting ready to answer the bell.
Pan Am Place, a groundbreaking enterprise designed to help troubled young men get back on the right path, is in the final stages of construction and is getting ready to start screening potential participants.
"We will have a September-to-October intake of up to four residents. We have lots of interest," said Harry Black, one of the driving forces behind Pan Am Place and president of Pan Am Boxing, a 500-member boxing club operating out of 245 McDermot Ave. next door.
More residents will be added in the coming months until it reaches its capacity of 30. Located in a 10,000-square-foot building at 88 Arthur St., Pan Am Place will be anchored by an already-operational full-scale boxing gym in the basement. The main floor will have a community kitchen and study area while the second and third floors will feature hostel-style lodging for young men aged 18 to 25.
"We're going to take these kids and they'll live with us for a six- to 12-month period. During that time, we'll get them orientated back into school, if they didn't finish high school, or into university or college," he said.
Boxing will be a required part of their lives. Not only will they have to work out there -- Black said the training will help give their lives necessary structure -- but they'll have to volunteer at various boxing classes.
The total budget for Pan Am Place is $477,000 and $320,000 has been raised thus far, including $80,000 from Pan Am Boxing members. Black said a number of groups that have already written cheques, such as the Winnipeg Foundation, are interested in increasing their support and he plans to meet with them soon. Black said he will also solicit support from other organizations, such as Manitoba Housing.-P96xavpg.js">
Of greater significance, however, are the operating costs. Pan Am Place has already secured provincial funding of $640 per resident, but Black estimated that's less than half of what will be needed so he has two means of eliminating the gap. The first is converting the fourth floor of 88 Arthur into a pair of condos, the rent from which will go to Pan Am Place. The second is a Save A Life program, by which people can sponsor youth in the program for $12,000 a year. Donors will receive a charitable receipt for their donation and they can even meet the young men they're supporting.
Three sponsors have already stepped up -- F.H. Black & Company, the accounting firm Black runs, ProTelec Alarms and a couple that lives in the Exchange District who heard about the program and came by with a cheque.
A number of city councillors, including Dan Vandal, a former boxer himself, Justin Swandel, Ross Eadie, Gord Steeves and Mike Pagtakhan, have donated more than $50,000 to the cause, too.
A number of other organizations have stepped up to volunteer time and resources. Natural Rest Bedding, for example, is donating 30 beds.
In a unique twist, three to four "pocket" condos will be built above the laneway between 88 Arthur and 245 McDermot to house workers at Pan Am Place. This will reportedly be the first construction of its kind in Winnipeg, although it is popular in other cities, such as Toronto.