Helma Swinkels is the Pot Luck Ceramics founder, but says a team of volunteers is responsible for keeping the for-profit part of the non-profit Port Alberni Co-op Society running. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO

Pot Luck Ceramics launches new way of giving

Come by Port Alberni store on May 5, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

What does quality of life mean to you? If you had $10,000, how would you use it to improve quality of life in the Alberni Valley?

Helma Swinkels and the rest of the volunteers at Pot Luck Ceramics and the Port Alberni Fundraising Co-op will turn to the public this spring and ask these questions, seeking direction for new donations.

Pot Luck Ceramics is a retail store selling imported ceramic cookware from Spain and Portugal. It is a draw to tourists, but it also has regular clientele from Port Alberni who keep the organization going through regular purchases. The profits from the store help quality of life programs, such as Ty Watson House Hospice and the Better at Home project.

Pot Luck Ceramics opened in 2011 after a long process that included working with the provincial government in creating a unique “for profit not-for-profit” entity—a shop that made money so it could be put back into quality of life programs or organizations within the Alberni Valley.

The first donations of $10,000 were made annually to Ty Watson House Hospice, where Swinkels, a dietitian, helped set up then manage the kitchen after the hospice opened.

The first few years the cottage was run part time out of a barn on Swinkels’ Cherry Creek property. Ever since they moved into the bright yellow cottage on Gertrude Street, they have received more requests for aid, Swinkels said.

That led members of the fundraising society to discuss how to open up donations to the broader community.

“Ty Watson House will always be on our list because we truly believe it’s unique,” she said, adding that an annual donation of $10,000 will ensure the hospice has at least one constant source of operating revenue.

For the first time ever, the fundraising co-op is asking the public where the co-op should direct its dollars. This new public program launches this weekend.

Learn more about the Port Alberni Co-op Society and Pot Luck Ceramics’ new nomination process on Saturday, May 5 at the Pot Luck Cottage, 4473 Gertrude St., from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The coffee will be on, and there will also be cake.

Nominations open Tuesday, May 8 and close Aug. 18. Nominations must be made in person at Pot Luck Ceramics.

Four finalists will be chosen by co-op members, then a winner will be named by Nov. 24.

“If this works well, then each year we’ll have $10,000 for the community to pick where it goes.”



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