“It’s spectacular. It’s a dream come true.”
That was Brien Dolan’s reaction when he, the staff and board members of Campbell River Family Services received what to them was an unimaginable gift.
In mid-December, staff at the non-profit society – who provide assistance to hundreds of Campbell River families – found it was their time to accept a hand up.
Janis MacDougall, who works with Family Services, and her family were looking for a way to contribute to the community and chose to give Family Services the gift of real estate.
The good news was officially made public on Wednesday afternoon.
Camille Lagueux, executive director of Family Services, said that after 38 years of renting space, having a place to call their own will be a dream come true.
“This gift – I don’t even know how to describe it – it’s overwhelming, it’s monumental,” Lagueux said. “I think it’s the dream of most non-profits to be self-sufficient in terms of building ownership.”
Campbell River Family Services has been leasing building space since its inception in 1977. It currently operates out of shared building space on 10th Avenue and provides services to individuals, children, youth and families. Services range from prevention to intervention and include abuse prevention and trauma treatment, family and parenting services, victim support, counselling and family drop-in programs.
For MacDougall and her family, Family Services is close to their hearts.
MacDougall’s mother and father, Freda and Pat Martin, are long-time supporters of Family Services. Freda Martin said it was a no brainer when MacDougall approached her about purchasing some property for the organization.
“We feel personally a little responsible and want to help any way we can,” Martin said. “We’ve been really proud to say Janis is with Family Services because it’s such a worthwhile service.”
It was MacDougall who approached her mother and siblings – sisters Carol Marshall and Donna Sharkey, who has since passed away, and brother David Williams – about buying the property.
“They all very gratefully said ‘yes’. My parents in the past had supported Family Services quite strongly and my sister (Carol Marshall) volunteers here,” MacDougall said. “They all appreciate what has been done by the society and they stand behind it.”
While there is no timeline yet for when the new home will be up and running, a sign will soon go up on the property announcing the future home of Family Services. The lot is located at 544 South Dogwood, which is beside Granlund Firearms; it’s the northern most property on the empty lot and is across the street from the movie theatre.
Once the property has been marked, Family Services will launch a fundraising campaign to raise money for construction costs.
Lagueux said the possibilities with the new space are endless. She has visions of adding a playground, a community garden where parents and their children can grow carrots and lettuce together, and play therapy rooms for children who have witnessed or experienced trauma and abuse.
MacDougall said as happy as she will be to see Family Services grow into their own space, she also hopes that her family’s efforts will encourage others to step up and lend support.
“For our family, our hope is that this is a first step and that others in the community will see the great things that Campbell River Family Services has done locally and be willing to also participate in creating and helping to build this new home,” she said. Dolan, the chair of the Family Services board of directors, said he hopes it will help shed some light on the society and its role in the community.
“The clients we serve and the work we do is somewhat in the shadows,” Dolan said. “It’s not super high-profile but the work we do is so fundamentally important.” Lagueux said she hopes to see a new building within the next few years.
“We do have a dream and hopefully in three years or less we will be dedicating our building,” Lagueux said. “We’ve got a lot of dreams.”