• Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

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Salvation Army finds new home for essential community services

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The Salvation Army has needed more program and warehouse space for some time, and after sharing the need with longtime supporter Gerry Wood — the owner of Wood Automotive Group — he and friend Dick Van Grieken of Telsec Property have provided the ideal space.

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Together they purchased a 100,000-square-foot existing building at 5115 17th Avenue in Forest Lawn and, thanks to a generous donation by the Wood Family Foundation, The Salvation Army will be able to renovate and move into half of the building.

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Forest Lawn has been well served by the organization’s resource centre for the past 20 years, but with the lease expired it has been vacated and a temporary lease has been accepted in the basement of the Forest Lawn United Church.

Thanks to the generosity of Wood and Van Grieken, plans have been completed with the help of designers at Reimagine Architects to consolidate several operations under one convenient roof.

Cliff Wiebe, executive director of community services for Calgary, will use a large area of the new building for essential programming for families in east Calgary.

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About 7,000 square feet will become a youth centre where kids can drop in for basketball, floor hockey, indoor soccer and even use a skateboard ramp, kept in the warehouse area on skids that can be simply bolted together and moved in and out of the recreation area.

A sports equipment swap is also planned to take place in the youth centre.

Wiebe is excited to be able to expand services and programs with a focus on literacy and education for families. He says no two families are exactly alike, and the programming is structured to recognize that diversity and accommodate the various needs of every family The Salvation Army serves.

Programs offered include financial literacy in support of individuals and families with low incomes. English as a Second Language helps clients to enhance their language skills to further their careers, and there is also a client tax program to help individuals attain government financial support and subsidies while removing any barriers to filing income taxes.

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A food distribution program relieves the burden and stress of where the next meal is coming from. The expanded space will allow for a one-stop location for food hampers and the backpacks program. Currently, families order and pick up at different locations — soon they will be served from the same space where volunteers put together the offerings.

Around 11,000 square feet in the new centre will also serve as a storage area for The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) that supports first responders and people affected by incidents — natural or man-made.

A fleet of mobile kitchens, a refrigerated unit and a 45-foot trailer will be stored there, with room for half a dozen units to be parked inside.

Fitting out the new building is a costly endeavour. Advisory board chair Robert Baldauf says the support by Wood and Van Grieken is magnanimous, and a $50,000 donation has been offered by Accurate Screen & Grating that was matched by other donors, but more is needed and fundraising initiatives continue.

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The huge building along International Avenue that was formerly a Target store has already been given a new exterior look, and Telsec has contracted the team of Ryan Rutherford and Mac Marcinew of Cushman Wakefield to lease the remaining space.

Another 25,000 square feet is being fitted out for a fitness club, leaving a 12,425-square-foot area and seven commercial retail units that have all been fitted out with new storefronts. All are served by ample surface parking of more than 500 stalls.

Notes:

Congratulations to Milena Radakovic, president and owner of Nexus Exhibits, who has been named as a Women’s Executive Network Top 100 of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in the Canadian Tire Community Impact category for her work advancing women’s entrepreneurship. Radakovic is also the Canadian Ambassador of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization that is holding its fourth annual Summit in Calgary on Nov. 17.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected].

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