Comox Valley Echo
By: Michael Briones
Original article:

McRae presents $250,000 to boost group’s funds raised to over $800,000

The I Belong! Campaign has received a huge injection of cash that catapulted its fundraising efforts to the building phase of the project.
At a gathering at Prime Chop House on Wednesday, Comox Valley MLA Don McRae presented a $250,000 contribution courtesy of the provincial government. It received much-appreciated applause from the many attendees that included campaign chairs, donors, mayors, councillors and supporters of the unique project that was launched last year.
McRae said when L’Arche Comox Valley set an ambitious goal of raising around $1.7 million in just a short time last year, he knew the task would be monumental. He is pleased to see the group’s fundraising effort go forward with the latest funding from BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development as it has pushed the campaign’s financial goal up to over $800,000.
“I must say a little work was my part but the vast majority of the work, was in the work of the committee and the citizens who have committed to fund-raise the remainder of those dollars,” said McRae. “I just can’t say enough; without that commitment to make sure that we as a community are making this up, this would not have happened as well.”
McRae expressed his sincere gratitude to the community of the Comox Valley for “stepping up like you’ve never stepped up before. You will be the lasting legacy not just for one generation, but for many generations.”
One of the group’s chairpersons, Murray Presley said they appreciate the work McRae put in to help them land the huge funding boost.
“I would be happy with $50,000,” said Presley. “But the $250,000 makes a real difference to our campaign. It means we’re going to be able to go into the ground as soon as we can.”
The goal now is to get the architects’ drawings and designs and approval for development and building permits.
“We are so excited to reach our go-ahead goal this quickly,” said Robert Mulrooney, who co-chairs the campaign with Presley and Paul Helpard. “Today we’re here to celebrate and acknowledge the people that have made this possible.”
Mulrooney said in accepting the task of helping raise funds for this cause, they’ve had to break out of their comfort zone. It meant approaching friends, families and complete strangers for donations.
Helpard still has a hard time believing how far the campaign has progressed in a very short time.
“I would have never imagined one year ago when we were standing here that we would see this kind of success unfold this year. Isn’t it mind-boggling?,” said Helpard. “I can’t believe the success that we’ve had.”
Also present was L’Arche Comox Valley Executive Director Christine Monier who was thrilled with the boost to the campaign.
“We are entering Phase Two of our campaign, where we start to look at sending work to tender, but also at how we want our facility to reflect our commitment to the environment, how it will be furnished and how we can optimize our fiscal responsibility to be as debt-free as possible when we finish,” said Monier.
The new facility will be a centre for day-time programming but also include six residential units – a key element in a community so desperately in need of affordable housing.
“Providing affordable, well- maintained and supported spaces for adults who can live independently but want or need the security of informal community – this is of huge importance,” Monier notes. “This facility will be so much more than a community space – for many it will be home.”
The I Belong! Campaign will continue its fundraising efforts. Presley said they’re not done yet.