Westman Youth for Christ Executive Director, Dwayne Dyck, joined Westman Youth for Christ in January of 1992 - with 20 of those years serving as Executive Director.

As of April 1st, Dyck will be stepping down as lead of the team, to be taking on more of a coaching role with WYFC in Brandon. 

Youth for Christ began in 1958 in the Westman Region and has evolved and matured in its mandate to address the needs of young people over the past six decades.

Dyck has been an integral part of program development and mission outreach to the young people who have participated in Westman YFC.  He says he's looking forward to this next chapter of life and waits for what God has in store for him and his wife, Roxanne, and their family.  Guiding/instructing incoming Executive Director, Rena Navid in her new role, will be part of transitioning over the next year or so.  In that, Dyck says he'll enjoy his role as coach where he's needed within the YFC organization.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Dwayne Dyck.

Q. What are some of the changes you've seen over the past 32 years since starting with YFC?

A. "We have a lot more homeless than we used to. Young people have a lot more anxiety.  Cell phones didn't exist and the internet was not even a dream for most of us. So that's made some radical changes.  When we were running the drop-in center, we were packing out 75-80 kids a night in about 1500 sq ft and it was packed and loud and stinky and fully of energy, and it was great!

But culture changed and people got more into video games, and this created a lot more separation from each other. People, youth didn't hang out the same; it's now a lot more individual. People gather differently. So that changed the culture a lot.

Q. Tell me more about the Uturn program and how it developed?

Uturn is a 2-year transitional housing program for young people ages 18-29 that are currently, or at risk of, facing homelessness. 

A. We had homeless when we had the drop-in center. We had youth who were sleeping in vans, and that kind of stuff. And as long as they left it clean, we always left the center open for them back then.  That kind of lead us into Uturn in the first place, and Uturn opened in 2001. That was kind of birthed out of our drop-in center and the needs we had with marginalized youth there.

How we serve youth within the homeless has changed.  We've got more. We've always been full and never really had enough space. But these days there are a lot of other agencies in the community doing that as well, maybe not with youth as much, but more in working with the homeless now than when we started.  

Addictions are higher and our recovery programs are always full too. There's been a huge change over the years.

Q.  Please tell me more about your literacy groups for students.

Westman YFC addresses the whole spectrum of literacy: listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and representing by reading with and to students, hosting guests, workshops and field trips, and more.

A. Our literacy group has been going for 15 years now. It was much the same as with Uturn, we checked with schools to see if anybody was doing literacy work with children outside of school hours and nobody was. There just wasn't money for it.

So, the advantage we've had is that we have a very strong faith community that financially invests and so we were able to do things like start the after-school literacy program. 

We work with a number of different schools, and it's been a great ministry. But it is a gap, because the province funds for schools, and they do some funding for families, but nobody has money for education programs outside of school hours.  So, that's where our faith community steps in and does it.

Q. You've started a ministry called Huddle just a few years ago. What is that about?

Huddle is a creative and inviting space in downtown Brandon for youth ages 12–29 to access free counselling, peer support, substance use support, Indigenous cultural services, immigration services, and more. 

A. I love it! It's a great ministry and community program. It's not like it's a YFC owned program. We give leadership but its a community program.  But the reason that it is as effective as it is in Brandon is because we have a wide community of people who invest a lot of time and money and resources in lots of different ways.

So, again it creates a very diverse place that's able to meet youth on so many different levels, whether it's professional counselling, or lighter mental health issues.  It works because we have a huge number of different community partnerships where we all work together.

Q. What makes Westman YFC work so effectively in the community?

A. There are 3 resources that make YFC work. First, we have a ton of people who are praying and that's a big deal.  We have people who invest money and that's a big deal because that's how we can keep functioning. And we have people who commit their time.  Those are the 3 resources: prayer, time and money.

And so, right now actually, we are recruiting staff. We need some capable staff; people who are committed to youth, who want to step into mission and who have skills.

Please listen to more with Dwayne Dyck below as he shares more on these positions that need to be filled, and more of his story with this inner-city mission in Brandon.

'Westman Youth for Christ has adopted the vision of “creating a community of Hope, where no young person goes hungry; spiritually, emotionally, physically or relationally.”'

Rena Navid will be stepping into the Executive Director position, and the remaining months of 2024 will be a transition time for both Dyck and Navid.