Bieber boosts hope for centre for pregnant teens

Hank Daniszewski, QMI Agency

Justin Bieber. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Justin Bieber. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

LONDON -- The Biebs is stepping up to save Bethesda Centre.

A group working to keep the London shelter for pregnant teens open announced Saturday that Justin Bieber, the pop superstar from Stratford, is donating a portion of the sales from his new song, Turn to You, to the $1.5 million campaign to save the shelter which is run by the Salvation Army.

Bieber dedicated the song as a Mother Day's gift to his mother Pattie Mallette, who was a resident at the 18-bed Centre before she gave birth to Bieber 18 years ago.

Turn to You became available on iTunes this week and Save Bethesda said Bieber would donate a portion of the revenues from downloads to the organization.

Sarah Brooks, a spokeswoman for the group, says she and three other women from the Centre were all staying at Bethesda at the same time Mallette was there.

"Pattie was just like any of the other girls. We were all in the same situation. Nobody knew this little baby, Justin, was going to become famous. She was just our friend."

Brooks said the Centre provides an alternative to other social agencies that are overcrowded.

"It offers hope, it offers opportunity. Without that centre, where wil these girls go?" asked Brooks.

On Thursday, Mallette tweeted: "please help me save these young girls. They have no where else to go."

Brooks said she could not estimate how much Bieber's song could potentially contribute to the campaign.

The singer's interest in the campaign has increased traffic on the campaign's Facebook page and on Twitter, and Brooks is hoping that Bieber's endorsement will encourage his fans to donate directly to the centre.

So far the group has only raised $110,000 of its targetted $1.5 million and is facing a May 31 deadline set by the Salvation Army. There is no indication it will be extended.

If the campaign to save Bethesda is unsuccessful, Bieber indicated the money would be diverted to other programs for pregnant teens.

In February, the Salvation Army said it would close Bethesda because of a chronic shortfall in its operating budget.

A Salvation Army representative was not at the news conference but spokeswoman Perron Goodyear later issued a statement.

"The Salvation Army is very grateful to Justin Bieber for his efforts to help save the Bethesda Centre. We are sincerely hopeful that the proceeds from his newly released song will help raise the required $1.5 million by May 31st," she said.

Details on the Save Bethesda campaign are available at salvationarmy.ca/savebethesda

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