The “before” (or rather “during”) and “after” shots of the kitchen area in the Campbell River Air Cadets hanger are a great example of the hard work put in by their volunteers this summer and the contributions from Campbell River Home Hardware to make the renovations a reality. If you want to help Squadron 363

Home Hardware steps up big time for Air Cadets

Welcome renovations to hanger were well overdue, but squadron 363 is still looking for volunteers

When Matt Gimson approached his boss at Campbell River Home Hardware to see if they could help out with something his child was involved in, he didn’t expect what was about to happen.

The response from store manager Allison Kilby was, “Let’s go have a look,” and after that first trip she knew it wasn’t a small undertaking. She also knew it was one they needed get behind.

The project in question is the Campbell River Air Cadets hanger at the airport, and, according to Kilby, “They were in a pretty dire situation.”

The walls of the facility, while structurally sound, were all made of medium density fibreboard (MDF), and there were some not-insignificant issues with the kitchen and office facilities.

“I told them to make a plan,” Kilby said, “and figure out what they wanted to do first, and what they could wait and do next year.”

Dawn Koomen, who sits on the board of the non-profit society who helps operate the facility, said while she had hoped for some help from someone, as the organization didn’t have any money in the budget for upgrades, the response from Home Hardware was overwhelming.

“We were literally expecting a few buckets of paint from them when they said they’d help. But what they’ve done – I just don’t know how to thank them for it,” she said, looking around the hanger at the progress that’s been made. “We were struggling to keep our heads above water, and these repairs just weren’t in the cards and were long overdue. It’s just amazing.”

What Home Hardware has done is not only supply the, “few buckets of paint,” that were hoped for, but also supplied and installed new cabinets and countertops for the kitchen and office areas, replaced the walls of the main hanger, and have committed to renovating the bathroom facilities, floors and ceilings in the next phases of the project, which will happen over a three year span.

“Giving back to the community is something all four generations of Thulin’s (the owners of Home Hardware) have always been all about,” she said, “and this was a group that needed it.”

Why, out of all the organizations out there, did they decide to help the Cadets?

“These kids are going to be brilliant,” Kilby said, “and they’re not as recognized as some of the other groups in town,” using examples like sports teams and other organizations that are comparatively well-supported within the community.

“We want to give locally, to groups as opposed to individuals, and to organizations that give benefit to the community,” she said, “but do you really know why?” she asked.

She then pulled a folded up paper from her purse. “This is why. This is them,” she said, handing over the page and pointing at it. “I hope that makes sense and doesn’t sound weird.”

On the page was written out, in longhand, a quote from Steve Jobs.

“Here’s to the crazy ones,” it began. “The misfits. The rebels. The Troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

“The ones who see things differently…You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.”

And so the work on the hanger will continue.

As for the Air Cadets, despite the help with the renovations, the struggle continues. They’ll be at the Volunteer Fair at Spirit Square in the Tyee Plaza on Saturday, Sept. 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. looking for help. Specifically, according to Koomen, they need finishing carpenters to help reinstall the trim around the doors of the facility and a few other odd construction jobs, as well as people willing to take the material supplied for a few courses and teach it to the kids…like public speaking.

They also need someone to teach the kids how to use all the instruments they didn’t know they they had until they began the renovations and found them in a storage area, so if you’ve ever waved a baton in front of a band, maybe give them a call.