A $53,000-plus donation from Shuswap auto enthusiasts provided a substantial boost for Roger Parenteau and for the Shuswap Community Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund.
At the Sept. 8 Lakeview Friday Night Cruise-In at Westgate Public Market, Parenteau was presented a cheque for $53,250 from Cruise-In organizer Preston Johnston, and Darin Haayer who helped organized a fundraiser for the response fund, by the Shuswap Community Foundation (SCF) to support communities affected by the Bush Creek East wildfire.
The fundraiser took place at the Sept. 1 Cruise-In, which had attracted 275 vehicles – a record number for the weekly show and shine. Johnston, who owns Lakeview Rod & Custom, a hot rod and custom shop in Salmon Arm, told the Observer he was blown away by the turnout and the amount raised.
Parenteau, the SCF’s executive director, said he too was blown away.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how blown away we were by the support from that one – my jaw hit the floor when I heard the amount,” said Parenteau.
The SCF launched the Emergency Response Fund on Aug. 19. Days later, SASCU announced it would match donations to the fund up to $25,000. On Aug. 30, the SCF announced the rollout of the Emergency Response Grants program, “aimed at offering vital financial aid to local organizations and projects addressing both immediate and enduring effects of wildfires on our community.”
Parenteau said Tuesday, Sept. 12, that support for the response fund has been phenomenal. More than 600 donations had been received, coming from as far as New York and Germany.
As for how funds raised will be disbursed, Paranteau said the SCF is now looking for input on community priorities.
“We are, by reputation and purpose, a fiscally responsible organization, so we want to know what the community needs are and fund projects that will be the most impactful, that we can leverage dollars from other partners toward,” said Parenteau. “That’s not to say that the dollars aren’t available right now, and we do have some applications in process, and we’re super happy to fund community groups. But we’re also looking sort of big picture down the road and what’s going to be best for the community in the long run.”
Parenteau said people still looking to support wildfire relief efforts in the Shuswap do so with a contribution towards the Emergency Response Fund. Donations are also being accepted to support economic recovery (the grant program).
“Or, if they want to support First Nations, we’ve got another funding stream that will go directly to the bands that have been impacted,” said Parenteau, explaining that each of the fundraising streams will be ongoing.
“In the coming months there’s going to be a great deal of urgency to provide the basics and get folks through the winter as we get to the colder months,” said Parenteau. “But then there’s going to be years of rebuilding that’s going to be needed. We want to make sure we’re there for all for that.”
For more information, visit shuswapfoundation.ca. Though it’s coming to a close for the season, you can learn more about the Lakeview Friday Night Cruise-In on its Facebook page.
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