The Italian Canadian Society has donated $65,000 to the West Coast General Hospital Foundation (WCGHF) to build a coffee kiosk in the hospital.
The West Coast Cafe will replace vending machines that are currently in place in the health square lobby area of the hospital and will sell Spirit Bear Coffee, soups, sandwiches and desserts. Proceeds from cafe sales will go towards the WCGHF.
Teresa Ludvigson, WCGHF executive director, said within 10 years the foundation could see an extra $800,000 to $1 million worth of equipment purchases for the hospital from cafe sales.
The idea to have a cafe in the hospital came to Ludvigson when she went for an interview at the hospital last year. She said she was disappointed when she wanted a cup of coffee but could only find vending machines.
“In my interview when we came to the part about fundraising for the foundation, I asked have they ever considered having a coffee kiosk, and the rest is history,” Ludvigson said. “I was really glad in November when the board said ‘put a business plan together for it.’”
Ludvigson said hopefully by August the cafe will be ready to serve.
“[Plans] are at the engineers’ now so we’re just waiting for that to be finalized,” Ludvigson said. “Once that is finalized we can call the contractors and say okay, go. It’s a small build, no floor changes, no wall changes and there’s minor electrical and plumbing.”
She said to begin with, only one employee will run the cafe but that volunteers in the community may be utilized as well.
“It allows us to stimulate employment growth in Port Alberni and also the volunteerism,” she said. “We’ve also utilized all local tradespeople to stimulate the economy with the building of the kiosk, which we believe very strongly in.”
Enzo Zanetti, Italian Canadian Society president, said the large amount of money was donated to the foundation because they wanted to do something that will last.
“I came in there and I wanted to do something different, I didn’t want to just give a couple thousand dollars,” Zanetti said. “I thought we might as well give something where we can make a lasting impression rather than come back every year with $1,000 or $2,000.”
Ed Francoeur, WCGHF chair, said the Italian Canadian Society’s donation will cover all startup costs.
“The Italian Canadian Society came to us wondering what they can do for us, and when they heard this idea they wanted to jump on board and be a part of it,” said Francoeur.