Hoping money grows for Tree

By Geoff Lee

June 8, 2017 12:00 AM

Olive Tree still needs 200K for renos

The Olive Tree Community Centre is stepping up awareness of its capital campaign to complete renovations on its new building.
Additional funds are needed to complete ongoing renovations at The Olive Tree’s new home at the former United Furniture Warehouse on 51 Ave. 
“The building is being boarded (framed) so we’ve been able to bring it to that stage, but we need to raise about $200,000 to be able to complete it,” said Becky Schille, the organization’s director.
The money will also allow the non-profit group to fulfill its goal to build a place to connect families and individuals to support in the community in areas of homelessness, hunger relief and education.
“We are a food-focused support organization in the city,” said Schille.
They serve up to 475 people a week between three free community meals, a seniors luncheon and a mom’s group at six different locations.
The new centre will consolidate all of the locations The Olive Tree has been working from, including four churches, a warehouse and a thrift store under one roof.
The 12,000 sq. ft. building will include a dining room, a commercial kitchen, an office, a warehouse, thrift store and a flex room with sponsorship opportunities galore.
The largest sponsorship opportunities are two $50,000 naming rights for the 125 seat dining room and the commercial kitchen.
“It’s not a great economy right now, so we know that those are big amounts,” said Schille.
“We hope to achieve it—if we don’t, we could also have 50 people donate $1,000 and we’ll reach the same goal.
“This community has been very generous to us in the past and we look forward to this continuing.”
Earlier this year, the Fred North Charitable Foundation purchased the naming rights to the building with a $150,000 donation, which allowed Olive Tree to buy the structure.
That donation topped off the phase one funding goal of $500,000, the same as the current funding goal for phase two renovations.
“We are doing a very large renovation,” said Schille.
“The existing building was built in 1967, so there was a lot of work to do; we had to add extensive plumbing and new electrical.”
The long-term goal of phase three is to raise an additional $1 million to pay off the mortgage.
Schille said it’s been “kind of surreal” to finally see the building coming together.
“We are so busy right now getting the building ready and planning our move, that sometimes you forget just how lucky we are to be moving into a home of our own,” she said.
“It’s been our dream since we started.”
Schille says fundraising for a charity like The Olive Tree is kind of a catch-22 when the economy is as weak as it is now.
“When the economy struggles then our numbers grow, but the donations decline,” she said.
“So we hope to get the reno done and complete and be in a secure home or our own, so when the next wave comes we’re ready for it.”
Schille is confident the new building will put an end to inefficiencies in staffing and volunteers preparing and serving meals from so many changing locations.
“We’re happy to be working all together and doing less hauling and running around,” said Schille.
“We’re going to be able to focus on the guests a lot more.”

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