Armstrong Rotary gets behind local groups

Armstrong Rotary gets behind local groups

B.C. Gaming grants help buy needed equipment and support programs

B.C. Community Gaming Grants have helped a number of Armstrong Spallumcheen organizations purchase equipment and operate programs.

The one thing in common between the programs and the grants? The Rotary Club of Armstrong, which acts as a conduit for the groups by applying for the grant funds.

The club and groups made presentations to Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo at a special dinner event at the Anchor Inn recently.

“We apply for the grants. B.C. Gaming checks over our application for all the groups that we include in the grant application, and decides whether everything is eligible for funding,” said Rotarian Shirley Fowler.

“Then there is a responsibility to Rotary to make sure the funds are distributed exactly as applied for.”

The province grants program distributes funds from commercial gambling revenues to not-for-profit community organizations.

The Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery Society used grant funds to purchase outside security cameras.

“This finishes a project we started to have cameras inside and outside the building,” said museum administrator Sherry MacFarlane.

The museum and art gallery has also used funds in the past to buy a projector and create what it calls its “pride and joy,” the Rotary Garden outside the museum.

The Loan Cupboard Program, which provides medical equipment such as crutches and canes, used some funds to buy a “much-needed” computer and printer.

Three Armstrong schools have been significant beneficiaries of the grants.

Highland Park and Armstrong elementary schools, along with Len Wood Middle School, have each used funds to help with their school’s breakfast program, and each have purchased needed equipment.

At “the old brick school” (Armstrong Elementary), principal Denise Brown said the grants have allowed the school to purchase sensory equipment, such as privacy screens for students, adding there are four such screens – made in Armstrong – in each classroom.

They’ve also bought stand-up desks, wiggle cushions, stools and equipment called therabands, which help students who are “fidgety.”

“The equipment is used all day,” said Brown. “We keep topping it up every year.”

The school also used funds to create a sandbox with pea gravel installed instead of sand (pea gravel is an inexpensive material to be used for various projects such as landscaping, building walkways, aquariums and more).

At Highland Park, principal Jodi van der Meer explained that community gaming grants have helped buy equipment, like laptop computers and a DVD player, as well as lessons in a number of different events.

“There have been Cycle B.C. ride lessons, gymnastics lessons, swimming lessons, and hip hop dance lessons for the entire school,” said van der Meer.

Len Wood Middle School was in a crunch when two of the three stoves in the school’s foods room suddenly died.

“Through the gaming grant and our PAC (Parent Advisory Committee), we were able to purchase the second stove,” said Patti Lemaire, vice-principal and councillor at Len Wood, which has also used grants to buy needed storage equipment for its breakfast program.

“The students really appreciate what they have at the school.”

Kirstie Blanleil, from the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, told how grants help with their recreational program, which she termed “small but mighty.”

“Rotary is an incredible supporter and very crucial to our program,” said Blanleil. “We set up no-barriers programs for kids and parents who can’t afford to register for things like soccer or hockey, or if they’re unable to get their kids to sports or events on a regular basis because of a lack of funds.”

Kyllo was suitably impressed with the work of all the groups through Rotary.

“It’s a great organization that does great work in the community,” said Kyllo, whose government has made $135 million available in the gaming grants each year. “What would life be like without the non-profit groups. I’ve heard a lot of great work being done here tonight.”

Rotary Club of Armstrong president Alf Bennett said it was nice for the club to be acknowledged by the government and the groups.

“Sometimes we think we’re in the background and people don’t know we’re here or that we exist,” he said. “It makes you feel good when you hear about the programs we’ve helped.”