Betty Begg-Brooks won’t be able to rest until she has keys in her hand.
And if the founder of the non-profit Gifts from the Heart is unable to find a facility for the charity by September, she says she will be forced to consider shutting down.
Begg-Brooks, who operates the charity largely from her West Royalty home, says she is frustrated and believes the provincial election caused a delay in the charity’s search for a facility.
“I am stressed,” said Begg-Brooks, who has had to push back this year’s major giveaway Care Fair from May to June 15. “It’s very frustrating.”
Begg-Brooks said she was offered a location, as well as the rental and overhead costs for one year, by the former Liberal government until a provincially-owned building could become available. However, that location fell through.
Another possible location was found, which Begg-Brooks described as perfect. She said the group needs a space close to downtown and with several thousand square feet so it can operate as both a drop-off and pick-up location.
Her dream is for it to be similar to thrift stores, with APM having donated a number of shelving units and other items, with the major difference being that everything is free to low-income Islanders.
However, soon the election came and went with the Liberals being reduced to a third party.
“I was pushing them to try and get them to sign this (lease) before the election,” said Begg-Brooks, who has been in talks with the current government but still feels no closer to finding a facility than she was months ago. “I still don’t have keys in my hand.”
Searching for wheels
A group that delivers necessities to low-income Islanders every day is now seeking support.
A GoFundMe has been started with a goal of $70,000 to purchase a work van with a refrigeration system to help Gifts from the Heart make its delivery donations.
The non-profit delivers food, clothes, toys and furniture and numerous other services to those in need. Founder Betty Begg-Brooks has previously delivered in her own SUV, an unsuitable vehicle for deliveries to begin with, which has left it needing multiple repairs.
The GoFundMe campaign is named “Delivery vehicle for Gifts from the heart.”
An official with the province said finding a location is still a work in progress from Finance P.E.I.’s perspective.
“We are hopeful we will be able to finalize a location in the very near future.”
Begg-Brooks hopes so, too, with the large collection of donations having taken over her home life.
As the director and founder of the charity she fields calls at all hours of the day, both from people donating and those in need. However, much of her home is filled with donated clothing, furniture and food. The donations have taken over her home while a 54-foot trailer, which has been provided by McQuaid’s, is in her driveway for the overflow. A local construction company has also provided the charity with a small building that houses donations of furniture.
Paul Haddad, a member of the group’s steering committee, described Begg-Brooks’ work as important but added that she needs her home back.
“She does amazing work, night and day,” said Haddad, noting that the charity receives calls from clients at all times of the day.
Despite the turmoil, Begg-Brooks is still committed to holding this year’s care fair.
She said Islanders can donate anything that is in good repair for the care fair, from clothing and furniture to food and children’s toys. The fifth annual care fair is being held June 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the P.E.I. Farm Centre at 420 University Ave.
More information is available on the group’s Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.