In September, 1986, Jimi Park and some supporters from the community decided to set up a service that would provide support and assistance to area people who have come into conflict with the law, and as a result were having difficulty obtaining employment.
Using money earned over the previous summer, they acquired space in a house on Kathleen Street in Sudbury. With the help of generous donations and dedicated volunteers, they refurbished the house and turned it into a meeting and dispatch centre which was later incorporated as “Action Job Search Sudbury Inc.”
The Centre’s main goal at the time was to help make the transition back to society easier on the inmates and their families. With a staff of only two people, they set forth to offer support to anyone affected by the Criminal Justice System. The first step in achieving this goal was to help the ex-offenders find gainful employment and assume a normal and productive life within the community. Jimi Park took an active role in approaching prospective employers and soon proved very adept at matching clients with appropriate positions.
Efforts were focused primarily on helping individuals recently released from prison, those on parole or probation, and their families. Staff assisted clients with filling out applications and preparing resumes. Soon they began receiving referrals from the Elizabeth Fry Society, John Howard Society, area halfway houses and Family Court. Jimi soon recognized a need for weekly support sessions where clients and family members could find a safe forum to discuss their feelings, hopes and fears.
Late in 1986, Dr. James Grassby, a retired Inco executive and very active member of the community, entered the Centre to satisfy his own curiosity about the program, which by then was receiving quite a bit of media attention. Being impressed with the effective administration and high success rate of the centre, he decided to become personally involved. Not only did he and his wife, Aileen, make a substantial personal donation to the Centre, he also persuaded many of his friends, business associates and acquaintances to contribute funds to ensure that this valuable service could continue. Dr. Grassby, recently relocated to Toronto, but still follows the activities of the Agency. He has earned the title of Patron and remains as such on the Board list.
In 1987, it became painfully clear that a new population was in dire need of the Centre’s assistance: young offenders and youth headed in the wrong direction.
Jimi began speaking at local schools to discourage young men and women from embarking on a life of crime. He found that sharing his own experience helped reinforce the importance of obeying the law and staying out of trouble. Soon the Centre became as much a drop-in as an employment service. It also became evident that some of these youth were in need of other help before they could handle jobs.
They began offering life skills and job readiness counseling, and in 1989, Action Job Search Sudbury Inc. became the Sudbury Action Centre For Youth. Young offenders were encouraged to return to school, and the older clients were encouraged to acquire the skills necessary to find full-time employment.
As a result of the Centre’s success, both federal and provincial funding was obtained which enabled the Board of Directors to hire staff to run the Community Youth Support Program and the Employment Program.
Because of its non-judgmental and non-threatening environment, the centre was ideally suited for a Risk Reduction program. The POINT Needle Exchange Program and IDU Outreach Program were established in order to reach out to injection drug users and help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis in the community.
In December 2020, the Centre introduced the Northern Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing Services for Youth (NEST Housing Services for Youth; or just NEST for short). This four bed low-barrier youth shelter and drop-in centre supports homeless youth to find more stable accommodations and to find and maintain an apartment of their own.
In 2021, SACY became the main site for the Future North youth technology and digital hub, the SAAVS and SACY Anti-Human Trafficking program, and the Summertime cooling centre at 199 Larch street for homeless people of all ages.