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Event to launch public phase of WCS funding drive

Agency to announce new Elmira location at family fun day Oct. 6

Sometimes … you just need a little bit of a party to kick off the public portion of your fundraising campaign. Woolwich Community Services will be doing just that on October 6 at Lions Hall in Elmira.

The campaign, under the banner “Sometimes …”, got underway in July when the agency began approaching businesses, organizations and certain individuals on a one-on-one basis. Now, WCS is ready to turn to the public as it looks to raise $1 million towards its move to a new home, says the chair of the campaign.

“A number of initial leadership level gifts have come in,” said Sandy Shantz. “The support shown so far has been promising, and we are now ready to invite the entire community to participate in this important campaign.”

With the launch event, WCS is “looking to put a public face to the fundraising campaign,” she said, noting it’s important to remind people in Woolwich and Wellesley just how many services the agency provides to the community.

“We are a generous community that believes in helping each other.  WCS has been helping us to help each other for over 30 years and the new facility will provide a home for them to continue to serve us for the next 30 years. This is an opportunity to show support for WCS and the wide-reaching programs they offer.”

Through the likes of its information centre, employment services, youth programs, family violence prevention initiatives and the more visible food bank and Christmas hampers, WCS provided services to some 6,000 people last year, or about one-in-six residents of the townships, Shantz said.

Getting the world out is essential, agrees Don Harloff, the agency’s executive director.

“People know Woolwich Community Services. They know the little building. They’re not sure of what we do inside,” he said, adding the people don’t always make the link between WCS and the Kids and I program at the Birdland Plaza in Elmira or the St. Jacobs Family Support Centre.

“The interesting thing that we do is that once you come through the door, there are all kinds of avenues opened up to you,” he said of those who enter the office on Arthur Street in downtown Elmira.

That little building, home to WCS since 1984, has long been overcrowded. Now, with the building having been sold along with the former township hall next door, the agency needs a new home. The fundraising campaign will allow for a new, larger facility under which WCS can consolidate its services, including its thrift store operation.

The site WCS will eventually call home is to be announced at the October 6 event. Until then, Harloff is keeping that information under wraps.

That’s partly due, he said, to the fact not all of the details have been worked out – he estimates they’re about 85 per cent sure of the location.

Harloff predicts the purchase of the site, construction and furnishings will come in at about $1.35 million, of which the public is being asked for $1 million.

“We are hoping that the community will support us to that goal.”

Shantz said that support so far has been good, as people recognize the value of a WCS to the townships, where social services groups are in short supply by comparison to the cities.

“People have been very generous – we’re really pleased with the support.”

WCS has been there for the community, now there’s a chance for the community to be there for WCS, she said of the public campaign.

WCS has been around in some capacity since 1974, incorporating 33 years ago. It has long depended on public support to run its many programs, said Harloff. The goal is to get the capital campaign out of the way quickly so that support turns back to the programs, he added.

The launch on October 6, running from 2-4 p.m at Lions Hall, will be a free community event at includes refreshments, snacks, music and family activities to go along with the news expected to be announced that day.

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