Freedom Quest’s new head office offers stability
Creating a safe, stable space for young people was one of Freedom Quest Youth Services Society‘s key goals in purchasing a building for their head office in Castlegar. Now they can continue to deliver free community programming to those impacted by substance use in a place that feels like home.
Serving young people between ages 6 to 18 and their families, Freedom Quest offers counselling, treatment programs, therapeutic recreation, residential services and more from nine locations throughout the Basin. After over 10 years in their previous head office, eight of which were spent on a month-to-month lease, the non-profit society faced an almost 50 percent rent increase that turned out to be an opportunity to put down roots in a permanent space — a goal they’ve been hoping to accomplish for years.
“When we received notice of the rent increase in December 2022, we realized the precarity of our commercial rental situation and the potential for increasing costs,” explains Executive Director Tina Tew. “We’d known for many years that we wanted our own space to create a youth-friendly environment that young people could feel ownership over. Staying in a rental agreement wasn’t going to help us achieve that.”
Investing in a space requires both time and money, which can be tricky to accomplish while renting. Through a comprehensive business plan and financial projections, Freedom Quest determined that buying a building and managing the long-term asset was a viable option with some support from Columbia Basin Trust. The non-profit secured a mortgage from Community Futures and purchased a commercial building that will benefit the public on a long-term basis. With supplemental contributions from Teck and Seven Summits General Contracting, Freedom Quest now has a welcoming new headquarters.
“The costs of upkeep on our old space became comparable to ownership, so it made more sense for us to buy,” says Tew. “Plus, the uncertainty of being on a lease created some instability for our program participants. Feelings of stability, belonging and consistency are essential for those affected by substance use and recovering from trauma. For many, we’ve provided a feeling of home that they may have never experienced before. There is healing in knowing we will always be there.”
Because the building was previously used as a law office and had been vacant for several years, it required some renovations for functionality and safety before Freedom Quest could move in on March 27, 2023. Programming resumed at normal capacity as of April 1, with the fresh space inviting its young program participants to feel at ease when they step through the doors, met with comfy couches, a light-filled room for their day treatment program and a sunny fenced yard they hope to use for badminton and gardening.
“Now we have a sense of stability,” Tew says, “and the program participants have already let us know the new building feels like a happy, healthy space — more like a home.”
According to Tew, Freedom Quest has grown from 12 staff members to 40 in the last three years, so their new head office couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Because we’ve been growing, and the government’s financial support is increasing for young people struggling with substances, this new space will be key for the expansion of our regional programming,” she adds. “With a smaller building on a large lot, there’s physical space for potential growth in the future, and that’s exciting!”
Owning property is a huge step for any non-profit, and Freedom Quest heartily recognizes this, having put in the financial analysis work for their long-term planning. Tew has already recommended the Trust’s Land Acquisition Grant to a few other local organizations that could also benefit from help with property ownership.
“I can see how the future of non-profits in this region will be tied to their ability to find permanent physical spaces, so this grant is vitally important and an amazing opportunity. Without this support, we couldn’t have done any renovations, and we likely wouldn’t have been successful in purchasing the property. I have so much gratitude for the Trust.