New Lake Country food bank virtually complete; to be handed over Jan.6

True community effort to raise the building comes to fruition with heavy hearts with the passing of Phyllis MacPherson

Plans are moving ahead for the Lake Country Rotary Club to hand over the new food bank building to the Lake Country Food Assistance Society with a planned presentation January 6 at 3:30 p.m.

Representatives of both the Rotary Club and the food assistance society will take part in a special ceremony that will be the first step in moving the Lake Country Food Bank to its permanent home.

The ceremony will take place with heavy hearts after the passing on Dec. 19 of longtime food bank manager and co-founder Phyllis MacPherson.

“We are all going to miss Phyllis – she was a unique and very passionate individual,” said Rotarian Bob Rymarchuk, the driving force behind the new building. “We were blessed that she chose to be such an important part of our community. I’m sure Phyllis is resting much easier knowing that we were able to take this important step: Ensuring the task she set out for herself could be successfully carried on for the forseeable future. What a legacy.”

The journey to a new and permanent home for the Lake Country Food Bank was a a true community effort. In January 2015, the project won a $100,000 award from the Aviva Insurance company and it was enough to bring the finish line into site for the Rotary Club and the many community partners. Once the Okanagan College trades program broke ground on the building the ball was rolling, while Rotary kept pushing for more donations and holding work parties.

At present the only two items that will remain to be completed will be the exterior siding on the building with work expected to be underway in early January and the finish landscaping including paving of the parking area. That’s scheduled for the spring or early summer of 2016.

The basement of the building remains unfinished and will not be used immediately.

At the ceremony, individuals and businesses who made donations of money, materials, or services will receive special invitations to the handover. Over 250 people have made financial donations.

“One donor who prefers to remain anonymous gave $50,000,” Rymarchuk said.

Other significant grants have come from the Central Okanagan Foundation, Farm Credit Canada, the Southern Interior Development Institute, and Farm Credit Canada.

In total, Rotary received approximately $400,000 in donations and grants and over $250,000 in donated goods and services. According to Rymarchuk, the building was valued at $1,000,000 based on industry standard cost of construction for a building of similar size and he added the completion of the project is the culmination of so many efforts.

“For our Rotary Club, the project was always about finding a permanent home for the food bank,” he said. “Our prime concern was to ensure that they could continue to fulfill their mandate without continually worrying about where they were going to be operating from. We felt that this dedicated group of volunteers deserved a much better workplace than where they were located. We are very grateful to all the individuals and organizations who donated funds, volunteers who helped work on the project and the many businesses who donated time and materials – everyone pitched in and made this happen.”