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Behind the Scenes of Holmes Family Effect: Hold the Fort
By Mike Holmes
Thursday, April 15th, 2021 @ 12:53pm
Our season finale of Holmes Family Effect took us to The Fort. This is an incredible organization that supports the youth in their community.
The Fort gives kids a place to go to be fed, to do their homework, and to hang out with other kids their age. Our hero, Beth, noted that it’s a place where kids who aren’t able to get the support they need at home are able to go to get the support they need to succeed. Whether that’s a good meal, a place to learn, or even just a place to meet others, what the Fort does for its community is invaluable.
Beth is the fearless leader of the Fort. While she has some amazing staff volunteers, in a lot of ways she feels like a one woman operation. With a background in law, she worked with a lot of youth in the justice system, and she realized that the kids she was working with – well, none of them were bad kids, they just needed a little bit of guidance.
So when she discovered The Fort, it felt like she’d found her place. She saw this organization as a way to work with these young people and help give them the support they require to keep them on a steady path. Whether it’s kids who were getting into trouble, or just kids whose parents worked too much to provide homework help and a healthy meal – there was room at the Fort for everybody.
The Fort was in rough shape when we arrived. The kitchen was small – and remember, they provide cooking lessons and meals for their youth here. The space was freezing in the winter, and too hot in the summer. And don’t get me started on the basement – it was practically unusable.
We noticed that Beth spent a lot of time with the kids one-on-one counselling them, and she really didn’t have a good space to do that with some privacy – so we definitely needed to build her a nice, comfortable office to make that easier on her and the youth.
The Fort has an amazing outdoor space – with a lot of room. When we arrived there was a small basketball court on the property – but we saw potential to add something much bigger.
Feature Highlight: The New Sport Court
Canadians love their outdoor sports – whether it’s the middle of the summer, or the dead of winter, you can probably find someone out tossing a ball, or playing a game of road hockey.
We saw the old basketball court in the space and we knew that we wanted to keep that there for the kids to get some physical activity, but we wanted to go bigger and better.
This is where we got introduced to the Sport Court. We knew we wanted something big and bold, but it also needed to be safe for the kids.
What I love about the Fort’s new Sport Court is the Double-Tier shock absorbing grid which helps reduce joint pain, scrapes, bruises, and slips, meaning safer play for the kids at the Fort. And of course, we’re all about responsible material selection as well, so I love that the court doesn’t contain any hazardous chemicals that we don’t want our kids to breathe in.
And they came through for us with a 30×40 court as well as all the accessories to play everything from basket ball and floor hockey, to badminton and pickle ball.
The Big Reveal
I love reveal day – but what I wasn’t expecting for this project was seeing just how many people from the community came to support us. It really goes to show just how much impact this small centre has had on the community at large. Getting to pull down that big Holmes Family Effect banner was a special moment for this community for sure.
I know that we surprised Beth with this reveal – and she really loved it. But Michael managed to surprise ME too with the photos he and Aaron took from the helicopter set up as a mural on the basement wall.
The Fort feels like a completely different beast than it was when we started. Not only did we fully renovate and remake the interior, we left the outdoor space looking great too, and I know that brand new Sport Court is going to get a lot of use.