A broken furnace would have left the Kiwanis Hilton Children’s Centre out in the cold were it not for the generosity of Port Albernians.
The approximately 60-year-old building’s furnace broke down at the beginning of December.
“One of the original parts to the furnace has broken down,” said Susan Fox, executive director for the Port Alberni Association for Children with Developmental Disabilities.
The centre investigated all of their options both locally and out-of-town and reached the conclusion that there were no ready made parts available, forcing them to have the part custom made.
“The air-handler is $15,000. It’s the whole heart of the system, it makes the air move into the building, fresh air as well as warm air. That’s what gets the building warm.”
While the centre usually tries to apply for grants and organize fundraisers when they need more money, the urgent nature of the repairs needed meant that they had to rely on the community’s generosity to get the money for the down payment that they’ve been able to put down.
“Everybody’s got together, there’s been several organizations that have already stepped up.”
At $2000, one of the biggest donations has come from CUPE Local 118.
“It’s really tipped the scales for us,” said Fox.
CUPE 118 has also issued a challenge to all the other unions in the city to donate to the Hilton Children’s Centre, said CUPE Local 118 president Stacy Watton.
“It’s been really heartwarming,” said Fox.
Dolan’s Gas Fitting and Concrete has also stepped up, cutting the cost of the replacement part by $5000 and donating a day and a half of labour.
“Right now it’s warm in here only because they spent a weekend looking for old fans that they could hook up,” said Fox. That effort by Dolan’s will buy the centre’s heating system enough time for the replacement part to arrive.
As the only child development centre for the Alberni Valley, families all across the region rely on programs provided there.
“We even have grandparents now who may have received a service here bringing their own grandchildren,” said Fox of the 32-year-old program.
From childcare to education to therapies of all kinds, the centre is a hub for childcare services in the city.
“These services touch every part of the community.” said Fox. “There’s childcare, education, fitness classes, city early childhood education classes, a preschool. Then all the special needs therapies for kids are in the centre. If you ever knew of anybody who ever had speech therapy, physiotherapy or occupational therapy,” they had it at the Hilton Children’s Centre.”
Anyone looking to donate can call 250-723-1117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are eligible for a tax receipt.