Shirley Higgins, left, with Mark Ketler, general manager of Regency Parkwood Retirement Resort. The Schubert Centre received a cheque for more than $2,000 from retirement resort as well as $10,000 from a former member of the centre on Thursday, Feb. 27. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Big contributions for Vernon’s Schubert Centre

Former member of the centre donated $10,000 while Regency Parkwood donated more than $2,000

The weather is warming up, but the Schubert Centre still needs a new furnace.

Fortunately, More than $12,000 in donations were announced at the Vernon senior centre’s monthly birthday lunch Thursday, Feb. 27.

The biggest contribution came from not from an organization or a furnace fundraiser, but from one former member for whom the centre meant a great deal.

Lois Merrifield donated $10,000 of her own money towards the estimated $130,000 needed for the new furnace.

The 91-year-old is currently living in palliative care and couldn’t attend the lunch, but her daughter Nina Bates and husband Wilbur Bates were there to bestow the cheque on her behalf.

“My mom was very frugal — is very frugal,” Bates said, emotions taking hold of her voice for a moment. “And because of her frugality, she was able to make a sizable contribution to this place.”

Bates explained her mother lived all her life on basic income as a farmer, and having moved to Vernon four years ago she found a home among the seniors who frequent the Schubert Centre.

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“She loved to dance,” Bates said, “and so she came to the Schubert Centre and the singing that was on Tuesday morning, Sing For Your Life.”

Bates said her mother made the donation for two reasons: “One of them is because of the value of the Schubert Centre and the value it puts on senior citizens here.

“The other reason… so that people would step up to the plate and contribute as well, to keep a place like this operating, because it is important.

Neither Merrifield nor the Bates family wanted any recognition for the donation — Bates had even hoped to avoid announcing the total amount of the contribution. When she did upon request, the lunch crowd burst into applause.

In addition, more than $2,000 was given to the centre by Regency Parkwood Retirement Home, which hosted a turkey lunch Sunday, Feb. 23, as a special fundraiser for the centre. General manager Mark Ketler said more than 170 people attended.

“That’s about double what we were hoping (to raise), so that’s amazing,” Ketler said.

Regency Parkwood has already chipped into the ongoing furnace fund, having donated $5,000 in January.

Upcoming fundraisers include an event with Patricia Neil Lawton on Friday, May 1, and a M.A.S.H. Bash dinner and dance on Saturday, May 30. Stay tuned for more information on future ways to support the Schubert Centre.

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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