By KIMBERLY SMITH
A new food storage area, a new kitchen, new flooring, new walls, a new entranceway and maybe a new roof sounds like a pretty big wish list. This and more are about to be granted for one local non-profit organization.
The Many Hands Project announced on Oct. 25 the recipient of the 2011 renovation project is the Salvation Army of Fort Erie.
For the past 14 years, the Event Management and Construction Studies programs at Niagara College have teamed up to grant renovation wishes for Niagara region non-profit organizations, choosing a new project each year.
Organizations who meet requirements are invited to submit their application to receive funding and assistance. Students review the application forms and do an on-site visit to determine who is the most deserving.
Devon Surgeoner, a member of the marketing and media team, says the project is chosen based on the specific work needed and whether the group has no access to any other funding.
Event Management program co-ordinator Shelley Merlo says, "All of the applicants are deserving. It is very hard to pick. The students chose them this year because after careful review they felt they could meet both the Salvation Army’s and the programs’ needs."
The Gilmore Road building in Fort Erie is an old church that Community and Family Service Manager Donna Patterson says is "broken down and hasn’t had funding available to repair."
"There is such a need in this building for love and care. It is a vital part of providing services," says Patterson.
The Salvation Army provides Fort Erie with many services including an emergency food bank and emergency energy funding.
Patterson says, "How the building looked was not as high of a priority as serving the clients was."
The project will focus on improving the food bank, giving it proper flooring, walls and shelving for the food. Renovating the kitchen so it is "workable," repairing the front entrance as well as repairing the existing hardwood floors are all top priority.
Patterson says the building has an elevator so people in wheelchairs can use the food bank, but the proper flooring ends one metre before the elevator doors, making it near impossible for everyone to have access.
Merlo says this is a "great project for the students because it not only gets them involved with the community, but it helps them see first-hand the efforts they make and the impact on the community."
Funding is raised by the events run by the program. Community sponsors donate money and supplies.
Casey Farley, co-chair of the project, says so far Canadian Tire Financial is their only secure sponsor, donating $5,000.
Surgeoner says she hopes the community will use the new space and continue to use it in the future for more services.
"It’s good to give back to the community to show that you care and to show pride," says Farley.
The Construction Studies students will begin renovating in January and will be onsite once a week until completion in April 2011.
"We can’t do it without them," says Merlo.
"Everyone is so enthusiastic. They are looking at everything," says Patterson. "This project has potential to offer the community a more brighter and better place."
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