Semi-final round underway
SUMMERSIDE — Boxer George Chuvalo has come on board and, later this month, former NHLer Chris Nilan will lend his support.
© Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
Club members Madelyn Case (left) and Sydney Cameron (right), along with employee Matt Pauptit are looking for your vote in the semi-final round of the Aviva Community Fund competition. Voting started Monday and goes until Dec. 11.
But big-name backing alone won’t get the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside’s Youth Engagement Centre project into the finals in the Aviva Community Fund Competition.
Votes — and lots of them — are needed to help make the centre a reality, said the club’s executive director, Adam Binkley.
“Voting started at 1 o’clock our time and we have already exceeded 100 votes,” Binkley said shortly after 2 p.m. Monday. “We’re definitely in the running. There are a lot of groups that are getting a lot of votes quick. We are definitely keeping up.”
The semi-final round of voting is underway. The club is vying for $90,000 in the large, youth-at-risk category, which would be used to renovate a building recently purchased on Notre Dame Street adjacent to the club’s long-standing home.
The centre, even without the Aviva Fund money, will go ahead eventually.
But, admitted Binkley, the $90,000 would go a long way in getting it off the ground by mid-year 2014. He estimated in the vicinity of 10,000 to 15,000 votes would be needed to push his club’s project into the finals.
“We need the support of the entire city.”
The centre, once established, would be for youth aged 13 to 19.
It’s something Binkley said that is desperately needed in the city.
The club currently caters to children aged five to 12, youngsters in kindergarten to Grade 6 or 7. It doesn’t have programming in place for what Binkley dubbed that “at-risk” age — those in their teens facing issues at home, at school, bullying and peer pressure.
“We desperately need the Youth Engagement Centre in order for these programs to operate. We have been very successful to date to secure funding for programming, that will start in 2014, so we need the physical space to do the programming,” added Binkley. “The market is youth. We need a totally different location than where we are at now. We purchased the location. We need the money for renovation, not only to increase the size but to put in the active living weight room and fitness room and a music studio. We have to redo the kitchen and dining room to meet the needs of the upcoming programming that is going to launch in September.”
Getting to the semi-final round has been no easy task. Club employees, supporters and members have been active on social media, pulling out all the stops, trying to drum up support and votes.
There have been a number of videos done by staff and members, the city’s graffiti wall used as a billboard for the project and a campaign involving Chuvalo.
“It’s tough to get the voters voting everyday and not just voting themselves but spreading the word. It is really tough when you are competing against a lot a large schools and organizations that may have greater resources of voting,” said Binkley. “We are really pushing the social media, radio, newspaper, the graffiti wall in the middle of Summerside. We have the City of Summerside and the mayor supporting it. Our biggest resource is our club members, who are really pushing this forward.”
Nilan, a former enforcer with the Montreal Canadians, Boston Bruins and New York Islanders, is scheduled to speak at Parkside Elementary later this month.
On Dec. 10, he will stop by the club to speak to members and lend his support towards the Youth Engagement Centre during an open house that begins at 1 p.m.
To vote, visit www.avivacommunityfund.org, register with your email address, find the Boys and Girls clubs idea, numbered 16945, and vote once a day.
You can register with other email addresses as well register and vote through Facebook and Twitter. Voting ends on Dec. 11.