ICYA is having a tough time cooling down in the summer heat because of a broken air conditioning system and is asking for assistance and prayers.
For the past 34 years, Inner City Youth Alive has existed as a ministry on the corner of Salter Street and Aberdeen Avenue. But it's ministry truly begins with its youth drop-in program, the Bridge Drop-In.
John Janzen, ICYA director of development says that the drop-in serves as the first point of connection kids have with ICYA.
The program allows for kids ages five and up from within an approximate eight-block radius of ICYA to hang out together, play basketball, pool, and start building relationships.
"It's kind of a first-connection point so that we can pursue what's basically our deepest value which is connecting relationally, being friends and family for those who might otherwise not have friends and family," shared Janzen. "The Bridge Drop-In is kind of 'ground zero' for where that all starts."
Two-and-a-half hours north of the city is where ICYA's other main summer ministry exists. "Where the drop-in is the inner city connecting point ... there's something important in getting out of the city and going away and then coming back."
Janzen says that a camp hosted by the organization up at Gem Lake provides kids with a chance to drop their inner-city walls and just enjoy nature and a chance to visit somewhere other than the city in the summer.
"There's a rhythm there that's important for us," Janzen continued, "and if you're growing up in the North End, sometimes that opportunity's not there. We go away and then we come back and we're different, we're better, we're refreshed, and so that rhythm that happens between those two places is intentional and good."
Unfortunately, ICYA and the Bridge Drop-In are currently having a tough time staying cool due to a broken air conditioning system.
According to Janzen, the organization's building temperature has reached around 33 degrees but has recently been hovering around a balmy 28 thanks to a scramble for some temporary air conditioners.
The high temperatures are not a problem for one of their team members, John Vasili, who just returned from visiting family in South Sudan. "He was the only one who said, 'plus-33 inside? That feels about right, I don't know what you guys' problem is,'" Janzen laughed.
But while Vasili might be faring well, the rest of the team is praying for a bit of a miracle, part of which came to them substantially earlier this week.
"We had a very generous matching donor get in touch with us this week," shared Janzen. That donor has offered to pay for half of the air conditioning system needed by ICYA, provided that the ministry raise the other half.
"It's on us to work hard and get the word out," says Janzen, who says anybody interested in donating can connect with the organization online or by calling him at (204) 891-5401. Donors are also welcome to stop by the building at Salter and Aberdeen and make their donation in person.
In the meantime, Janzen says there's been "lots of motivation" to take the Bridge Drop-In outside.
"There's (sic) always so many things," shared the director of development when asked what ICYA needs prayer for at the moment. In addition to their cool-air crisis, Gem Lake is in full-swing, Janzen says.
"The beautiful thing about Gem Lake is when kids get out of the inner city into nature, there's usually a certain sort of hard inner city-ness that sort of drops off, slowly but consistently."
Those willing can pray for kids to continue to have life-changing experiences while at Gem Lake, and for the work ICYA is doing with the Winnipeg School Division as they prepare for back-to-school in the fall.