Musical fundraiser to benefit MennoHomes project

Zion Mennonite Fellowship sees affordable housing in Elmira as a community boon, looks to help


Having decided MennoHomes’ affordable housing project in Elmira will be a great asset to the community, Zion Mennonite Fellowship is hosting a concert and barbeque next weekend on the site where the building is taking shape.

Zion Mennonite Fellowship’s committee chair Marilyn Brubacher said they were looking for ways to support the project other than just soliciting donations.

“We have really felt that MennoHomes, that housing project, is going to be excellent for Elmira just because it provides some housing that hasn’t been available up until now, affordable housing that has accessibility. This seemed a fun way to draw the community into it because it’s not a church project, it’s a community project,” Brubacher said.

It’ll be held in the parking lot of Woolwich Community Services, which is on the same property where the three-storey 25-unit affordable housing project is under construction. It will be the only affordable rental apartment building in Elmira with an elevator.

Larry Lesperance and friends will perform, as will the church’s Zion Mennonite Band. The outdoor concert is free, but people who stop by are asked to consider making a donation to MennoHomes.

She says Lesperance tends to play easy listening and folk music. The church band mostly plays Christian music, but they likely will play some other tunes as well.

MennoHomes executive director Dan Driedger says the nice thing about the event is it wasn’t initiated by MennoHomes.

“The church is a downtown Elmira church trying to reach out to the local community there and our project is happening literally in their back yard. They certainly wanted to be involved and figure out how to do that,” Driedger said.

He’ll be set up with an information tent at the event to answer questions and accept donations. He says they’re thrilled that the church decided to put together a concert in support of the housing project.

“Sometimes these open events like this are nice because people can just swing by without feeling really conspicuous about it, if they’re curious,” Driedger said.

And people can make it a full day of music since the concert finishes up an hour before the Sunday Night Concert Series at Gore Park, which starts at 7 p.m.

“It’s good timing. The event is happening from 3 to 6 and so all the people that normally go to Gore Park, they can come to this concert and have their supper and then they can head up and have some more music at the park,” Brubacher said.

As for the construction, Driedger says they started a bit later than expected this spring because of some of the site prep work. He says it’s rolling now though.

“On the fundraising side of things, as anticipated the summer has been a little lighter because people are enjoying summer in Canada, that’s what we do. So that’s not a big surprise, so we’ll be kind of re-launching our public fundraising efforts again in the fall. This fundraiser’s actually a nice way to begin that again, to start to get a little bit more public awareness,” Driedger said.

He notes people driving by the site now can see it’s more than an idea, as evidenced by the busy construction crews. Despite not having all the fundraising completed, he says they’re encouraged by the support they’ve received thus far.

“We know that some people are wrapping up their commitments to other local projects and we hope that as they do that they look to this, recognize that it’s a good local project and are able to get behind it over the next year,” Driedger said.

And what better way than with some food and entertainment on a Sunday afternoon.

“It’s an event that hopefully draws the whole community there, the broader community, not just the church community, just to support something that’s going to be a benefit for everyone living in the area,” Brubacher said.

The MennoHomes Fundraiser BBQ and Concert will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 28 at 5  Memorial Ave. All proceeds from the barbeque will go to MennoHomes. Cash, cheques and credit cards will be accepted and tax receipts will be available.