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Elmira Lions get early finish on fundraising support for new WCS facility

Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz (left) joined members of both the Elmira Lions and Woolwich Community Lions clubs as well as the team at Woolwich Community Services on Wednesday as the service clubs presented their final donation to the WCS building campaign.
Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz (left) joined members of both the Elmira Lions and Woolwich Community Lions clubs as well as the team at Woolwich Community Services on Wednesday as the service clubs presented their final donation to the WCS building campaign. [Ali Wilson / The Observer]
Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz (left) joined members of both the Elmira Lions and Woolwich Community Lions clubs as well as the team at Woolwich Community Services on Wednesday as the service clubs presented their final donation to the WCS building campaign.
Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz (left) joined members of both the Elmira Lions and Woolwich Community Lions clubs as well as the team at Woolwich Community Services on Wednesday as the service clubs presented their final donation to the WCS building campaign. [Ali Wilson / The Observer]

The Elmira Lions clubs presented the Woolwich Community Services with their final donation … a year earlier than anticipated.

Back in July of 2013, WCS started a capital campaign to build a new centre, with a target of $1 million to help fund the construction that would later upgrade their old 1,000-square-foot building on Arthur Street to build a new 7,500-sq.-ft. building.

The donation by both the Elmira Lions Club and the Woolwich Community Lions Club was set to be a five-year contribution of $250,000 to help raise money for the organization’s now built building at 5 Memorial Ave. in Elmira.

“We reached out to the community to support us moving from 73 Arthur St. S. to a new building at 5 Memorial Ave. We had different naming privileges that different people could sponsor at different levels of investments,” explained WCS executive director Kelly Christie. “All of our rooms are sponsored by different people and the Elmira Lions Club and the Woolwich Lions named the building, hence it’s called the Lions Resource Centre.”

Art Woods, a long time Elmira Lions Club member, took the project under his wing after being approached about having the Lions contribute to the centre.

“I guess we all knew what was going on. I was contacted specifically by one of the fundraisers on the committee to see if I thought Lions would get involved. I am only one Lion but I am probably one of the senior Lions now that still remains very active and I said ‘let me take this to the executive,’” he explained of  the fundraising project’s origins. “Woolwich Community Services has been a stalwart institution over the years. They do a lot of good things. We have always supported them as a club in their various activities. Just because of all of the great things they do, when I took it to the executive as a major project, I recommended they went for it and from there on it was history.”

The Lions started their support off with a bang, giving $100,000 as their first installment.

“It was a major commitment for the Lions Club,” said Woods.

The Elmira Lions Club was set to raise $200,000 while the ladies’ club pledged $50,000 towards the cause.

“They are a younger club with fewer members, although they are a very active club too,” explained Woods.

The Lions received help from Lions Clubs International, which saw the project as a worthy cause.

“We are very happy that Lions International supported us,” he said. “Beyond that we just tried to raise our $200,000 and the gals their $50,000 and we are done.”

In the past, the Lions have helped contribute to a range of projects, from community halls to trails and sports fields, so the project was in line with their key values, Woods noted.

“It was just a matter of being convinced that it was a worthwhile cause, that we could help as many people as possible,” he said. “For this one we thought it was a good organization worthy of support and obviously they responded because our name is on the building as Lions Resource Centre. We are the largest contributor towards the project. So we felt the same way and they really needed money, that’s our mandate to help those in need in our respective communities and that’s what we did.”

Woods says he is happy to see all of the good the building has done in the community already.

“I am very pleased about that, it will be there helping people for a long time,” he said. “It is obviously fulfilling a need. It is just an amazing organization.”

The new facility combines many of WCS programs and services including the Woolwich Thrift Shop, provides a larger Food Bank with a separate entrance and allows for private offices and confidential spaces to meet with program participants.

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