Local 276 business manager Mark Cutris (left) is joined by Bob Campbell

Local 276 business manager Mark Cutris (left) is joined by Bob Campbell

Community helping community at Jeneece Place

Union celebrates 75-year anniversary by making donation to family support home

The Vancouver Island Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers Local 276 is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. In honour of that milestone, they wanted to do something special for the community.

Based on the West Shore, Local 276 wanted to engage its roughly 500 members and they pulled together to raise funds over the course of the year. Through many different fundraising campaigns, ranging from bottle drives to silent auctions to private donations, they raised more than $14,000, an amount presented in the form of a cheque to representatives of the Children’s Health Foundation at Jeneece Place in View Royal last Thursday.

“Our members work and live in this community and this what we do,” said Mark Curtis, Local 276 business manager. “It’s been a major team effort.”

When asked why they chose to direct the funds to Jeneece Place and the Children’s Health Foundation, Curtis said, “it was just a good fit.”

He added that a number of the union members had connections with the house and foundation. “We’re really pleased to help out.”

Bob Campbell, a board member with the Children’s Health Foundation, said it was a good partnership because both parties focus on serving the community.

“This donation will allow us to help kids on Vancouver Island,” he said. “The benefit of the house speaks for itself.”

Joining Curtis on a tour of Jeneece Place were fellow union members Trevor West and Amy Carr, whose husband installed the floors they were standing on, she noted.

Jeneece Edroff, the girl behind the dream, and house manager Christina Peacock led the tour of the facilities.

“We’ve had families that have worked on this house, but have never thought they’d need it,” Peacock said. She noted the community has really taken ownership of it in an effort to keep that “sense of comfort” for those who need it.

“Our occupancy is well over 80 per cent (for the year),” she said, adding that some months range higher than 90 per cent.

The house has the capacity to accommodate 10 families, but has seen as many as 13 using the facility, with some camping out nearby in motorhomes. The house is designed to support the overflow, with spacious living areas and facilities available for those just wanting to grab a quick shower or do a load of laundry.

Families use the house in a variety of ways and for a number of reasons. Some use a “day pass” when their child is receiving treatment or tests. Peacock said most often guests end up in the house due to emergency situations, procedures with extended hospital stays, or baby-related issues that require a stay near the neonatal intensive care unit. Sometimes in extreme circumstances, she added, house guests have a parent in the hospital and the rest of the family stays at Jeneece Place because they need to be close.

Edroff, who will soon turn 22, hasn’t forgotten the legacy she created with her penny drives so many years ago. She often stops by just to visit – a small gesture that is often greatly appreciated by families using the facilities.

“Hearing that makes me realize what I did really matters,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”

She started collecting pennies at the age of six, but turned her focus to creating Jeneece Place at the age of 14 when she realized there was a real need on the Island for a facility like it. “I wanted to help kids,” she said. She achieved that goal when the facility had its grand opening on her 18th birthday.

Carr said her children “all collect coins to keep it going.”

When asked what members of the community can do, Edroff said they can help by “coming in, making a meal, volunteering.” Often local residents will donate their services by providing massages or doing family members’ hair. “Those little things make a difference,” she said.

Added Peacock: “We just try to respond with whatever’s needed … It’s great when people phone and we can see what their interests are.”

For more information call 250-479-9908 or go to jeneeceplace.org.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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