A well-attended sock hop earlier this year shows that people will flock to the centre for the right kind of event. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)

Anonymous donor saves mid-Island seniors centre from closure

The money will keep the doors open until about February

The Cowichan Lake 50+ Activity Centre got a new lease on life last week when an anonymous donor stepped up with $15,000 to keep the centre from closing down.

The money will keep the doors open until about February, according to Ginny Saboe, president of the Cowichan Lake District Seniors Association.

The centre, located on Renfrew Avenue in downtown Lake Cowichan, beside the post office, was a busy hub but had to be more or less shut down for the summer when money ran short to keep it open.

“We had to close the centre due to financial trouble but we are kind of reorganizing and trying to figure out what best to do,” Saboe said Saturday. “We got a $15,000 anonymous donation — isn’t that phenomenal? — and what that means that this will give us the six months that we need approximately to put the finances back in shape.

“We’ve got somebody working on the finances to do just that and we want to move forward and hopefully keep the Cowichan Lake 50+ Activity Centre up and running properly.”

Special events like the Fifties Sock Hop that was held earlier this year proved that the centre can really draw a crowd with the right bait.

“We’re hoping to have more things like that in the future,” Saboe said.

The centre’s official re-opening date is Monday, Sept. 11.

“We will have the kitchen running. It will be run this time with volunteers. We will not be able to bring in paid employees at this time. But we will do volunteer cooks, and we’ve got a couple of great ideas about utilizing the other cooks in town. I don’t know the ins and outs of it yet, though,” she said.

“I’m working very closely with Max Russell and his wife, Gail. This is their forte: they’re great at fundraising, at helping looking at the books and they will kind of point us in the right direction.

“It’s great to have them because they give us something we were lacking at the centre. We didn’t have the people who knew who to contact. Tracy Hamilton is going to work with us as well and she knows all about publicity. That’s what we need, that’s what we’re going to do.

“We’re going to look at more community involvement. The centre’s got to move ahead with the times. It’s the only way it’s going to work. That’s what we’re looking at.”

Saboe’s delighted to see support coalescing because a lot of work went into getting the centre going and no one wants to see it simply close up.

“We’re not going to let it. We’ll fight with everything we’ve got. I haven’t had a day off this summer, to be honest. It’s been go, go, go. I’ve been talking to the different people that can help and what they offer and what they will do with it and everything else.

“That’s my goal: we’ve got to keep that centre going. The one centre has been in existence for 27 years now and it is a wonderful place for anybody new in town that doesn’t know anybody. I came here five years ago. I didn’t know a soul and knew I had to move people here. I knew I had to meet people. I did it by walking in the door and volunteering in the kitchen. That’s what I did and now I’m president. There you go.

“We have wonderful ideas. We’ve just got to take the time and do it right so that place is always there for us as we get up in age. We want it to be there for ever and ever and that’s what we’ll be doing,” Saboe said.

The centre reopens Monday, Sept. 11 from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday to Friday with all regular activities. Call 250-749-6121 for more information.

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