Incorporated and granted charitable status in 1985, Youville Centre was the brainchild of Sister Betty Ann Kinsella, a member of the Congregation of Grey Sisters and a former teacher at Immaculata High School and Our Lady’s High School in Pembroke. Sister Betty Ann’s vision was to create a centre that would give young mothers and their babies a chance for a brighter future through education, social support and parenting instruction. Named in honour of Sister Marie-Marguerite d’Youville, founder of the Sisters of Charity (now known as the Grey Sisters), Youville Centre continues to carry on Sister Marie-Marguerite’s legacy of helping those in need, particularly women and children.
What began as a small centre in Hintonburg serving 12 young mothers and their children now provides innovative programs and services for up to 100 young mothers and their children each year. At the outset, Youville Centre programming focused on providing young mothers with education, housing support, counselling, childcare and parenting instruction and it still addresses these needs today. During its Hintonburg years, the Centre’s programs and services, under Sister Betty Ann’s leadership, grew and developed. As Youville Centre grew, in addition to its emphasis on education and housing, important services such as legal aid, a public health nurse, parenting and life skills, nutrition, and enhanced crisis support counselling were added to its programming.
The Youville Centre is a founding member of the Young Parent Support Network which provides services to young parents in Ottawa.
In the Spring of 2000, Youville Centre moved to its current location on Mann Avenue. After a very successful Capital Campaign, spearheaded by Sister Betty Ann, important renovations were made to Youville’s current building in order to respond to the expanding population base of its clients and the evolving needs of the young mothers and their children. Many program changes have occurred over the past quarter century; however, the spirit of Youville Centre remains the same. Making a difference with two generations, breaking cycles and providing a hand up to young mothers still remains Youville Centre’s priority.