It was a million dollar makeover that left the recipients in tears.
The Easter Seals Camp Winfield has been renovated in a project that was planned for over a year, but kept secret from the Easter Seals organization.
From building and painting new picnic tables to landscaping and major renovation work on buildings and equipment, 285 volunteers and 135 companies came together to spruce up the camp – all the brainchild of local resident Rob Ellis.
“Unbelievable. More than I could have ever wished for, for the kids,” said Nirm Blatchford, director of development for Easter Seals camps.
She and other officials were in tears as a special project was unveiled at the end of the day. A memorial pavilion in honour of children who have passed away will serve as a place of reflection for families, other campers and camp staff.
Stephen Miller, president and CEO of Easter Seals and the Lion’s Society, says he only learned of the project this morning. Organizers had asked him and Blatchford months ago to keep this weekend free but they didn’t know why.
“They’ve been working on this for a whole year and only this past Wednesday did they start moving stuff in,” said Miller. “It totally took us by surprise. I only learned about it four hours ago. It’s an incredible experience. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. It’s just amazing what they’ve done, that they took on an extreme makeover for this whole camp. It’s the greatest surprise I have ever received.”
The upgrade is far more extensive than anything the camp has seen in the past. “As a charity we really look for every dollar we can to pay for the services,” said Miller. “If we have money left over then we look at fixing things up. Normally every year we’ll come up with a list of 15 or 20 items.”
Usually he says repairs are small, such as painting fences or patching broken concrete. “But this is a wish list like no one has ever seen before. It’s a list of 220 items that have been done, and huge projects.”
Originally the caretakers had asked organizer Rob Ellis to consider helping them with a few small upgrade projects. He said he’d get his ball team together and see what they could do. They had no inkling he would take their idea much further.
“This is going to be a million dollar project when we’re done, very easily,” said Akbal Mund, in charge of the volunteer base. He also hopes it inspires other community groups.
“This is a ball team. Twelve people on a ball team who decided to do something for the community,” added Mund. “We thought about it and said, if we can do it how can we inspire other teams to look in their communities.”
Thanks to Castanet