Just over six months in, a Rotary Club of White Rock initiative to raise funds for upgraded playground equipment at White Rock and Peace Arch elementaries is two thirds complete – and a new contribution from Landmark Premier properties holds promise that the remainder will soon be achieved.
Last August, when the project was announced – along with the club’s decision to appropriate the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation’s discontinued Great Pumpkin Run/Walk concept, move it to Thanksgiving and re-brand it as the Great Turkey Run/Walk – the club was looking at raising $150,000 to re-equip the dated playgrounds at the schools and bring them up to contemporary safety and accessibility standards.
Club president Mauricio Browne de Paula and fundraising committee member Gordy Sangha, general manager of the Ocean Promenade Hotel, said that, as of the beginning of this month, funds raised stand at $100,000 – including proceeds from the run/walk, a special Rotary Christmas book sale, and several large donations from individuals and the hotel.
“The total cost of upgrading the school playgrounds is about $300,000, and the schools’ parent advisory committees have raised about $150,000, so we’re about $50,000 short,” Browne de Paula said, adding that the project matched well with his intention, during his term of office, to make sure the club was taking on – and completing – projects in its home community, as well as contributing to worthy Rotary causes overseas.
“Playgrounds contribute not just to health of the children, but also their socialization,” he said.
“It took the PACS almost three years of hard work to raise their funds,” noted Sangha.
“We want to make sure the job is done well before this summer, so that the older children in the schools now will have good memories of the playgrounds when they graduate. Our desire is to get this done as soon as possible so that the playgrounds are done by Easter.”
Browne de Paula and Sangha said they’re sure that one last push – with the help of good corporate citizens in White Rock and South Surrey, among others – will be all that’s needed to put the project over the top.
“We’ve been talking to several banks in the area, and Oceana PARC have expressed interest in coming aboard,” Sangha said.
News of the latest boost to the project comes from Norm Stowe, managing partner of the Pace Group representing Landmark Premier Properties, who have committed to contribute $10,000 in matching funding to the project, with a deadline of the beginning of May.
“So if you put in $10,000, that becomes $20,000, or your $100 donation becomes $200,” Stowe explained.
“We’ve also committed to go out into the community to talk to other companies like ourselves.”
Stowe said that corporate participation in community projects of this kind makes sense on every level.
“At the end of the day we all benefit,” he said, noting Landmark’s contributions through the Picnic on the Pier benefiting the PAHF, as well as the Tour de White Rock cycle race, Christmas on the Peninsula, the Landmark Pop-Uptown Gallery arts space at Central Plaza and the Friends of the Pier project to help rebuild White Rock pier.
“Landmark has been involved in the community for five years, since we started putting the Foster-Martin project together,” Stowe said. “For us, the best communities are the ones that are about more than just the buildings.”
Stowe said South Surrey and White Rock offers a “special community” where care should be taken to contribute to the quality of life, and he also applauded the “get-it-done” attitude of the White Rock Rotarians.
“We know from our business that people move into a community because of the amenities it offers – and that includes playgrounds – and because it is serving the public’s needs in arts and culture,” he said.
“We know as a corporate citizen we benefit from everything good about (the area), so we would encourage other developers and other companies who call White Rock and South Surrey home, or have their businesses based here, to contribute.”
Browne de Paula and Sangha noted that donations are 100 per cent tax deductible – and, because of the volunteer nature of the club, all money donated goes directly to the project.