Inspiring Our Future Campaign Committee exceeds goal by nearly $500,000
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The Inspiring our Future campaign to raise money for the renovation and expansion of the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre has exceeded its $2 million goal by over $400,000.
Campaign Chair Brian TenPas and the rest of the committee made the announcement late last week at one of the committee’s meetings, held at the centre.
“The community centre and arena are the heart of our town,” TenPas said in a press release issued that night. “It’s been wonderful to see so many people step up to make sure it will be there for the next generation.”
At the meeting, TenPas announced that the total raised by the committee was $2,468,000 (the total has already grown by more than $10,000 to $2,478,902, as reported to Huron East Council at its Tuesday night meeting). This exceeds the committee’s goal of $2 million, which had already been increased from $1.4 million when the cost of the project was reassessed and increased due to material costs and supply chain disruptions.
In an interview with The Citizen, TenPas said he is so proud of what the committee and the community has achieved, saying that it’s been both overwhelming and unbelievable to be a part of such an amazing project.
When he was first approached as a potential chair for the campaign, TenPas said, he was unsure about stepping out of his comfort zone. But, as someone who has lived in the community for a long time, with many ties to Brussels hockey, he felt he had to do it.
The support from the community has been incredible, he said, but he’s not surprised. The people of Brussels and the surrounding communities, he said, can always be counted upon to step up and dig in on an important project, and this one was no different.
He said he never had any doubts when he saw the team that fundraising professional Nicole Jutzi assembled. It is chock full of strong, community-minded people, he said, and he knew they would get the job done. He says it’s been “absolutely tremendous” to see the support.
With a both a son and daughter living in the community now, TenPas said it’s great to know that the centre will live on for decades and that his grandchildren will have a place to skate, play hockey, see concerts or enjoy community meals. It’s those events that keep a community strong, he said, and to know that the centre will be there, improved for years to come, it’s a great feeling. Furthermore, it’s a bright time for new residents moving to Brussels he said. They have a lot to look forward to and to be proud of.
Deputy-Chair John van Vliet, in an interview with The Citizen, admits that he thought the $1.4 million goal was a lot to ask of Brussels residents and residents of the village’s surrounding communities, but that he knew they were up to the task. To exceed that original goal by more than $1 million, he said, is truly amazing.
All that has been accomplished in less than one year, with the campaign officially kicking off in the spring of 2022.
Van Vliet said it’s a real testament to the people of the community. He felt quite early on that there was a lot of momentum with the project and that it was going to be successful, something he thinks the other committee members would echo.
He said the committee was tight-lipped about progress as it did its work, but that it was all worth it when members were able to announce the final total that’s been raised in recent months.
As a resident, he said it makes him proud to know that the centre will have a new life, not just for the ice surface and dressing rooms, but for improvements to the entrance and the kitchen and the inclusion of a gym, something Brussels has never really had. Hopefully, he said, all of this work will make the centre more appealing to users and potential renters, resulting in an increase in usage at the centre, which will translate into more revenue for the centre.
He says the hope, for him, is that it will last another 40 years, just as the original centre construction did.
Van Vliet’s fellow Deputy-Chair Doug McArter said that he too was unsure of the original fundraising goal, but knew that the community of Brussels and its neighbouring residents were up to the challenge. He’s been involved in enough projects over the years, he said, that he knew it would be successful.
One thing he highlighted was the naming opportunities for the renovated and expanded centre. When donors contributed funds in order to name different areas of the centre proved to be very popular, he said, he knew the committee was going to end up in a good place.
McArter says he really chalks up the success of the campaign to the people involved. So many of the committee members, he said, have been residents of the community for so long and they’ve worked on similar campaigns. They came from Brussels, as well as Morris-Turnberry and Huron East’s Grey Ward as well, so he said it was nice to see everyone coming together from throughout the community in the name of the centre.
He said he has great pride in the centre and the work that will now be done will help preserve the centre and its important place in the community for decades to come.
In addition to TenPas, van Vliet and McArter, Roxane Nicholson served as the campaign co-ordinator, while Dan Fritz, Michelle Blake and Leisa Albers were sector chairs and Joe and Deb Seili and Neil McGavin were honorary advisors. Canvassers included Brett and Laura Fischer, Patricia Beuermann, Kevin Deitner, Jeff McGavin, Steve and Marnie Knight and Jeff Cardiff.
The total cost of the project is over $7.5 million and the remainder will be paid by grants from the provincial and federal governments and funds from Huron East and Morris-Turnberry.
“The first stages of the construction project are already underway. The outer walls of the extension, which will allow for six larger dressing rooms, are going up. While there is still a lot of work to be done, it is heartening to see this long-awaited project begin to take shape,” reads the press release issued that night. “In addition to the six dressing rooms, the renovated community centre will have a streamlined foyer, unobstructed and heated viewing area, space for a multi-purpose fitness centre, a modernized kitchen, improved auditorium entrance, increased storage for user groups, a modernized sound system and a new roof.”
Nicholson was one of the first people involved in the project and she said she knew the committee, and the community, would accomplish whatever goal was set back in June of 2018. When the study was conducted, finding that the campaign could yield in excess of $2 million, she said it confirmed what many of the committee members knew in their hearts.
She said she wasn’t surprised when the committee raised more than the $2 million it was tasked with raising, always knowing that the efforts would connect with the community for such an important project.