Perseverance and community networking allowed one Canadian Kiwanis club to contribute funding toward the construction of a recreational center in their community. Supporting the project soon became a route to not only the community’s transformation, but also the club’s.
After seven years of dedicated fundraising, the Kiwanis Club of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, fulfilled a CAD $100,000 commitment toward the construction of the Garcelon Civic Centre. The civic center is intended to become a recreational, social and cultural focal point for the community, and its construction a stimulus for economic development. Designed for use by citizens and businesses in Charlotte County (New Brunswick, Canada) and Washington County, (Maine, USA) the CAD $3.5 million center will include a skating rink, recreational and therapeutic pool, track and meeting rooms. It’s expected to open in the fall of 2013.
“Our club chose to become involved as we understood the importance of a facility like this to our community,” explains club President Lisa Murphy.
Donations such as the one made by the Kiwanis club supplemented funding from the federal, provincial and municipal governments. The largest financial commitment in the club’s history, it was also one of the primary sources of funding for the project.
“The Kiwanis Club of St. Stephen gains its financial support from residents of the area,” explains club Secretary Roger Alain. In spite of a mixed reception given to the project by the community’s taxpayers, he feels that the Kiwanis club acted in the best economic and civic interests of the community it serves.
“After listening to those involved with management of the project and after having town officials meet with our club to address those worries, we felt that a project of this magnitude could only have a positive effect on our community. By showing support of the Garcelon Civic Centre through our public activities, we hope the change in attitude toward the facility will continue as construction proves that this is not just an unattainable dream,” he says.
The road to the 87th anniversary celebration at which the check was presented was not always smooth. Early in the campaign, one of the club’s largest annual fundraisers was canceled due to the economic downtown. But members—retired from professions ranging from grocery store management to school principal and postal worker—used their connections to establish new fundraisers or encourage sales. Alongside an annual partnership with the local Rotary club to sponsor a radio bingo benefiting both clubs and a barbeque on Canada Day, the Kiwanians also began to sell raffle tickets.
Though the fundraising initiated as a means to help the community recover economically, the success has reverberated into the club itself.
“Our club has rebounded, but it is only thanks to the efforts of Kiwanis members of all lengths of service,” says Alain. –Courtney Meyer
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