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Good Neighbours: Rotary helps Cool Aid build community

Users of Cool Aid’s Downtown Community Centre are enjoying revamped facilities, including new showers, improved lighting and additional soundproofing, thanks to a $100,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Victoria.

Users of Cool Aid’s Downtown Community Centre are enjoying revamped facilities, including new showers, improved lighting and additional soundproofing, thanks to a $100,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Victoria.

The centre, run by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, provides free and low-cost activities and is part of the larger Pandora Project that includes housing for people with mental-health and addiction issues. It has been operating at 755 Pandora Ave. since 1997.

Cool Aid executive director Kathy Stinson said the improvements done over the summer will make a real difference to the diverse group of people who use the centre.

“The community centre is really a community asset,” she said. “It’s used by Cool Aid tenants, by other people living in the downtown core, by people who are connected through other social-service programs and by the Downtown Residents Association.”

The provincial government contributed $34,600 toward the refurbishment project.

On Friday, the community centre recognized the Rotarians’ efforts, unveiling a plaque honouring the club’s contributions.

Stinson said the centre’s busy gymnasium now has added storage and soundproofing, as well as better lighting.

“We have kindergym that’s in there during the mornings five days a week,” she said. “That’s really the place where the downtown daycare operators take their kids to get some running-around time. There’s also all kinds of drop-in sports for young adults and adults, and the opportunity to participate in health and wellness programs.”

The health and wellness options include the popular Every Step Counts, a run/walk program designed for people with barriers or challenges in their lives.

Also included in the renovation was a much-needed expansion to the computer room, Stinson said.

Rosalind Scott, past-president of the Rotary Club of Victoria, said the club’s approximately 90 members are delighted to support such a worthy cause.

“We were looking to do something very significant and sustainable for our 100th anniversary,” Scott said.

Scott said the club has marked its centennial with a number of good works, including giving a van to the Rainbow Kitchen — which provides hot meals on a drop-in basis — and committing $50,000 to Craigflower Elementary School for a project aimed at physical well-being.

The Victoria Foundation is matching the donation to the Craigflower project.

Senior rappels into Drop Zone history

Fred McMurray rappelled down the side of the 13-storey CIBC building in downtown Victoria Thursday like it was just a stroll in the park.

At 88, he became the oldest person in Canada to ever take part in the Easter Seals Drop Zone event.

He also happened to be racing against his granddaughter, Kara Goetze, 36.

“I said, ‘I’m going to beat you’ and I did,” said McMurray, who wore a red Superman cape.

The team was among 41 participants in the annual Victoria Drop Zone. Participants descended the side of an office tower to raise $113,435 for the Easter Seals’ Camp Shawnigan, which caters to Island children with physical and cognitive disabilities.

“It’s a great cause,” said Goetze, a massage therapist who raised $2,000. “I really wanted to do it.”

She wasn’t surprised her grandfather wanted to join her — when she went skydiving for her 26th birthday, he was peeved he missed out.

McMurray was a high-rigger in his logging days. Also called high-climbers, they climbed tall trees to cut limbs and set up pulleys to move logs. It was one of the most dangerous jobs in the business.

McMurray was once featured on the cover of Beautiful British Columbia Magazine, pictured at the top of the last skidder tree in Port Renfrew, he said.

Hospitality offered in times of need

Golfers will tee off Monday at Westin Bear Mountain Golf Course to support a charity that helps Vancouver Island hospitality industry workers who find themselves in a financial crisis because of illness.

The B.C. Hospitality Foundation hopes to raise $10,000 during its first annual memorial golf tournament. During the past six years, the foundation has provided more than $250,000 to about 40 people from Victoria, Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach Parksville and Ladysmith.

Tim Fukushima, head brewer at Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery, who was diagnosed with leukemia in February, recently received a $3,000 donation toward mounting medical costs from the Victoria-based charity. He was the fourth beneficiary in the Island hospitality industry to receive support this year.

The foundation also supports the industry’s next generation by providing scholarships to students enrolled in hospitality, culinary and wine programs in B.C. The charity has given $25,000 to students at the University of Victoria, Royal Roads and Camosun College in Victoria and at up Island institutions, including North Island College and Vancouver Island University.

For more details, go to

Rugby fundraiser a clean sweep

Cleaners and high school rugby players teamed up Saturday to sweep any trash off the shores at Willows Beach in Oak Bay.

The Clean the Beach event helped raise money for the Oak Bay Barbarians’ planned 2014 rugby tour to South America. In return for the help with the beach cleanup, Merry Maids of Victoria provided a $2,000 donation.

It’s part of Merry Maids’ ongoing support of the high school team, which also has a family connection — Oak Bay High School alumnus Matt Tanner, of Merry Maids, is the brother of Barbarians assistant coach, Dylan Tanner.

While on the international rugby tour, the Oak Bay Barbarians will compete in matches with local schools and clubs as well as have the opportunity for sightseeing and enjoying the local culture.

For more information, go to and

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