Charlie & Sue Kopczyk
Founders, Why Not City Missions
Since 2002, Why Not City Missions has served the community of Brantford, Ontario, meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. In a safe and inclusive environment, we seek to eliminate barriers, and foster the social development, personal growth and empowerment of homeless and at-risk youth in Brantford.
It all began when Sue Kopczyk couldn’t bear to see the hurt people in downtown Brantford, Ontario feeling so lost and helpless. She took to the streets, listening to people, praying, laughing, and building relationships with them. Soon, she was handing out Joe Louis’ and clothing. Her husband, Charlie, was quick to join her efforts. So many were desperately in need of acceptance and plain old help.
Sue and Charlie partnered with the Blessing Centre and created a black-light lounge to give the youth most at-risk a place to be happy and safe. The dream kept growing, and soon they had their own building on the north side of Colborne Street. Starting in December 2004, the “Downtown Java” grew the dream, and was followed by Why Not City Missions, a new governing body.
In September 2011, Why Not Youth Centre opened at its present location: 368 Colborne Street. This location is the Mission’s central office in addition to being a highly active youth centre. In 2019 the youth centre expanded from four to seven evenings a week; and in 2021 homework help hours were added on weekdays.
Also in 2021 we tackled youth homelessness directly by launching Why Not Youth Housing and opening a house for young men, “Charlie’s Place.” Encounter, a faith based program, was launched this same year, as a safe place for youth to explore faith, ask real questions, and find encouragement and hope. In September, 2022, we opened our newest home to young moms, SHYP (Supportive Housing for Young Parents), where young moms and their babies are provided with wrap-around support to help establish healthy parenting routines while allowing the young women to continue to work on their own life goals.
The youth who access Why Not’s services have a few things in common: almost all of them live in poverty, many only do not have regular contact with their parents, and some do not have a safe, consistent place to live. Other challenges include bullying, growing substance dependency, mental illness, unplanned pregnancies, criminal activity, abuse, poverty, lost identification, and dropping out of school. As we have worked alongside these youth, we have seen that these difficulties have their roots in early childhood trauma and we have sought new ways to help youth overcome. A big part of this comes from the relationships we develop, where youth are seen, known, understood, and celebrated simply for being by our phenomenal team of staff and volunteers.
Why Not City Missions is a Registered Canadian Charity and is supported solely through donations from individuals, grants, and fundraisers. It is a Christian organization founded on principles of grace, kindness and care.