Woolwich Community Services is launching a fundraising campaign that will lead to a brand-new home for the Elmira-based agency.
The nonprofit organization, which provides a variety of services, including job search support, income tax clinics, a family violence prevention program, the Woolwich food bank and Christmas Goodwill Program, has been based out of its shoebox-size building on Arthur Street since 1986.
The building was built on township-owned land that was made available to Woolwich Community Services. With the sale of the property to the Elmira Wellness Centre, Woolwich Community Services will begin paying rent next year.
The timing was right, said executive director Don Harloff, to look at building a new home.
“This spurred us to think about the future of Woolwich Community Services as well,” said Harloff. “We looked at our needs as an agency.”
Harloff said the number of services provided by the agency have continually grown over the years.
“Certainly, we have outgrown this building 20 years ago.”
The “Sometimes…” campaign is slowly being launched, with the hopes of raising $1 million for a new downtown facility for Woolwich Community Services.
Former Woolwich councillor Sandy Shantz is serving as the chairman of the “Sometimes…” campaign.
“Fundraising isn’t something I’ve done a lot of, but Woolwich Community Services is an organization that serves so much of the community, and does so many services, that it was easy to say ‘yes,’” said Shantz. She is also serving on the committee with Darcy Krahn as deputy chair, Brad Martin with personal gifts, Chris Adams with business and industry and Leigh-Anne Quinn as campaign coordinator. Members of the campaign canvassing team are Rick Trapp and Pete Brubacher.
While many residents are aware of Woolwich Community Services, said Shantz, she believes there are many who have no idea of the wide range of services it provides.
“I think people are aware Woolwich
Community Services exists, but I really think there is not a good understanding of what they do,” said Shantz.
Approximately 60 per cent of Woolwich Community Services’ annual budget comes from fundraising and donations, as well as through the support of an army of volunteers that help with everything from food hampers to driving patients to medical appointments.
Currently, Woolwich Community Services houses its many services in a building that is only 1,000 square feet in size.
The new building, which would also accommodate the Woolwich Community Services thrift store, would be 8,000 square feet in size, a substantial difference.
Harloff said that the intent of the fundraising campaign is to raise the capital costs for the new building, so any future donations and fundraising efforts can go simply towards the programs that support the community, rather than building costs.
“Our goal is to be able to keep our fundraising go directly towards programs, and not to the building,” said Harloff.
A new facility would also provide additional bonuses for clients using the services provided by Woolwich Community Services, such as an added measure of privacy, both within and outside the building, and improved accessibility and parking.
Harloff said he is hopeful that the campaign, which will officially launch this fall and wrap up by spring 2014, will be successful.
For Shantz, who has already been meeting one on one with organizations that may support the campaign, she is already seeing the measure of support the community has for Woolwich Community Services.
“It’s been very positive,” said Shantz. “The people we’ve spoken to are very supportive of the work Woolwich Community Services does and also the way they operate. You get more bang for your buck with Woolwich Community Services.”
For more information on the “Sometimes…” campaign, and the work of Woolwich Community Services, call 519-669-5139, or visit www.woolwichcommunityservices.com.