The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Swift Current Branch is embarking on an exciting fundraising effort in order to construct a new facility.
Having outgrown their current location at 176 4th Ave. N.W. after calling it home over the past 24 years, the Swift Current Branch has purchased a double lot on 5th Ave. N.E. and is launching a fundraising campaign to construct a new home.
“It’s the first step in a lot of future steps, but it’s a big step to finally have done this,” explained Jacqui Williams, Executive Director of the CMHA Swift Current Branch. “This is exciting.”
Board members and staff were on hand at the newly acquired double lot on Sunday to install a sign to inform the community of their new future location. The land purchase was finalized on August 20 but they decided to wait until Sunday to formally unveil their plans.
They were originally looking for a downtown building to renovate because of the scarcity of open downtown area land. However when this property came up for sale earlier in the summer, they jumped at the opportunity to fundraise in order to build a facility to their exact demands.
“It’s perfect for us,” Williams said of their new location. “This building (on 4th Ave. N.W._ is a two story, and we’ve wanted a one story completely accessible building. To find an area in downtown where you could either get a building you could reno or two lots together was kind of a daunting process. We managed to find the two lots together so now we’ll be able to build something brand new, exactly what we need, instead of having to modify something that’s already out there.”
She admitted the current location has considerable challenges which have become more noticeable as their membership has increased by 30 per cent over the past few years.
“The issues with this building are too small, not wheelchair accessible, if you have any mobility issues we’re not really accessible. Our dining room only seats 30, and during normal operations we usually serve about 40 meals a day.”
“Clearly if we had more space we could do more things. Right now everything is around scheduling.”
“Everybody is having to dance around one another because of limited space. I would be very excited if we could actually pull this together and get a nice big building and be able to just let programs flourish.”
Williams added that it is important to remain in the downtown area for the convenience of their clientele.
“We wanted to be centrally located. Many of our present members don’t drive and they rely on public transportation,” she said. “So if we’re in the downtown area it’s easier for most people to access us by foot… Most of our clientele are in this downtown core.”
Now with a site chosen for their new building, they have begun work on the facility floor plan, and fund-raising is now underway in earnest.
Williams estimates they are just past the halfway mark of their fundraising goal as a result of a series of previous generous donations and contributions. This funding has come from sources including the Durward Seafoot Estate, IA Financial, Innovation Credit Union, along with their 40 for $100 fundraiser held in conjunction with their 40th anniversary in 2018.
Additionally they have reached out to some funding organizations in hopes of generating more donations, and an online portal has been set up to collect donations from individuals seeking to lend their support.
She noted there is a one to five year timeframe to construct the building, dependent entirely on fundraising.
“A lot of that depends on whether we get funders or sponsorship,” she admitted. “Fund-raising is tough because economically we’re not in a great time period. So that’s why the timeframe is so wide. It could be in a year if we’re lucky and we’re gifted money quickly. If not, and it takes us five years, then it takes us five years. We want to own it outright. We don’t want to have to incur any debt.”
The topic of mental health has been a top of mind issue for many people during the current COVID-19 pandemic which has served to highlight the importance of mental health.
“If anything, there’s almost more of a highlight and focus because many people are struggling with the reality of the pandemic, whether its personal situations or if it’s health situations. People’s lives have changed dramatically. Change is good but change is also very stressful for everyone. There has definitely been a mental health focus during this pandemic.”
“I do feel we do provide a good service to the community so it would be money well spent to have this building and be able to reach a broader base. And I think there is a broader base of people out there who require services, but the services are probably different than what we’re currently providing but could fall under that peer support model.”
Individuals or groups interested in supporting the CMHA’s Cash for Construction fundraiser and log onto SwiftCurrent.CMHA.ca and click on the donate button.