Hardly a dry eye could be seen at the Crofton Seniors Centre, as the Chemainus-Crofton Eagles Aerie and Auxiliary No. 4400 handed out a total of $250,000 to community organizations.
It was an emotional time last Thursday at a special reception for members of the 14 groups designated to receive funds. The large and small contributions all added up to a significant offering by the Eagles and much appreciation in return.
“It makes you feel good,” said Pat Irvine, who conducted the proceedings, to see the reaction of the recipients.
The Chemainus-Crofton Eagles presented Cowichan Valley Hospice with $100,000; Cowichan District Hospital Foundation with $50,000; Crofton Community Association, Chemainus & District Baseball Association, Crofton Seniors Society, Crofton Sea Walk, Chemainus Health Care Centre, Chemainus Harvest House, Chemainus Seniors Society and Chemainus Legion each with $10,000; Chemainus Secondary with $9,000 for bursaries starting in 2020; Girl Guides $5,000; Chemainus Rod & Gun Club $3,500; and Crofton Museum Society $2,500.
Irvine, a past provincial madam president, explained the Aeries and Auxiliaries operate much like formal lodges such as the Masons, Elks and Moose, but are very much a service club similar to the Lions, Kinsmen and Rotary. The Eagles’ motto is ‘People Helping People’ and their mission is to make life more desirable by promoting peace, prosperity and hope.
Most Aeries have a home, Irvine went on to say, and the Chemainus-Crofton Eagles meet at Fuller Lake Arena, but it’s always been the intention to eventually secure its own place.
“Throughout the years, we have managed to put aside $250,000 for this purpose, but with the rising cost of property along with the advancing age of our dedicated members, we no longer feel that this is feasible,” she explained.
Thus, it was decided to give those savings back to the communities they serve.
Besides the quarter of a million dollar disbursement, another $1,000 from the Eagles’ provincial gaming grant during a Mother’s Day Tea Saturday in Crofton plus another $2,000 will be given to the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society.
The largest chunk of money given to Cowichan Valley Hospice will go toward the establishment of a Cowichan Hospice House project for the region. The goal of raising $10 million is drawing close and work is expected to begin on the facility at Cairnsmore Place in Duncan by August, with completion by September 2020.
“This is a giant step forward to close that gap,” said Rob Hutchins, a member of the Community Task Force to bring a Hospice House to the Cowichan Valley.
“When I see people like you coming forward to do what you do, it warms my heart,” added Christa Fox, chair of the Task Force.
With a new Cowichan District Hospital in the works as well, the Eagles’ contribution for the facility was welcome news and will go toward a room in their honour.
“We are delighted to be included in this group of worthy recipients,” said Alison Taylor, executive chair of the Cowichan District Hospital Foundation’s board of directors.
The response was the same and tears were shed from group members down the line, thrilled to receive funding from the Eagles.
“We are so grateful for the Legion to get this money,” offered Janet Mitchell on behalf of Chemainus Legion Branch 191.
“I think we’re going to put this toward our clubhouse,” said president Larry Hopwo of Chemainus & District Baseball Association’s funding. “The clubhouse we’ve got now is 70 or 80 years old.”
“Big guys aren’t supposed to cry,” said Chemainus Rod & Gun Club’s Larry Wasden. “We don’t get these kinds of donations very often.”
“Very, very generous,” Robin Fisher praised of the Crofton Sea Walk contribution. “We are blown away thrilled. We’ll do our best to put this to great work.”
“Thank you very much,” Keith Falconer said on behalf of the Chemainus Seniors Society. “We have projects on hand that do require funds.”
“We are all certain this will be used wisely and to the benefit of our communities,” summed up Irvine.