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Prom Country Aged Care building fundraising campaign kicks off

THE Prom Country Aged Care building fundraising campaign is off to a great start with more than half a million dollars raised already – and the campaign was launched only last week!

Foster War Memorial Arts Centre was the venue last Tuesday for no fewer than two campaign launches, as well as an information session for local construction and landscaping tradespeople who may be interested in working on the 60-bed aged care facility to be built in Foster.

Llew Vale, a member of the Prom Country Aged Care (PCAC) committee of management, welcomed the more than 60 people who attended the afternoon campaign launch. Likening the campaign to a marathon rather than a sprint, he said that the rebuild requires $2.707 million to be raised over three years and the project is already significantly under way.

Praising her for her boundless enthusiasm, he introduced Sandy Bucello, who is the president of the PCAC committee of management.

Ms Bucello said the new 60-bed facility to be built on land behind Banksia Lodge would be very important to the Corner Inlet district. As well as becoming home to aged men and women currently housed in the two separate facilities of Banksia Lodge at Foster and Prom View Lodge at Toora, it will provide employment for around 70 staff and ongoing business opportunities for various businesses across the district.

She paid tribute to the men and women, especially Rob Knight and Jo Stringer, who were involved with PCAC in earlier years and in 2009 managed to secure a $9 million federal government grant towards the building of the new facility. The federal member for McMillan, Russell Broadbent, was unable to attend Tuesday’s launch, but he was praised in absentia for his support of the project and his assistance in getting the federal government grant.

Guest of honour at the launch was the Deputy Premier of Victoria, Peter Ryan. The very active member for Gippsland South needed no introduction.

He said it was a particular pleasure for him to come along and launch the campaign in “undoubtedly the most magnificent electorate in the Victorian parliament”.

“With 1000 days to go in which to raise $2.707 million and $500,000 pledged already on the first day, that’s good maths!” he exclaimed.

Mr Ryan said building a facility in which the aged could be looked after was an investment in the community. “Building a facility that will provide appropriate levels of care to people to whom we owe a commitment and in many cases a debt is very important. To be part of this is an honour to us all.”

He said that there would be some people who would say that raising such a large sum of money as $2.707 million couldn’t be done.

“But it can be done and it will be done. This community has an extraordinary generosity of spirit,” he said, citing local health services, which are the envy of many other rural communities.

Mr Ryan said that it was an honour for him to launch the fundraising campaign and he would, he said, be contributing to it himself.

Members of the fundraising sub-committee, which includes Julie Need (chair), PCAC CEO Claire Schmierer and community volunteers Trish Moon, Lee-Anne Van-Dyke, Barb Morris and Jenny Roffey, have been out in the community already inviting groups or individuals to run an activity which would raise funds for the building project. They have, said Sandy Bucello, been presented with “some real pearlers of ideas!”

One mother and daughter asked guests to their 50th and 21st birthday celebrations not to purchase presents but instead donate to the PCAC project – they raised $560.

A local stamp collector sold his collection and handed over the $1400 proceeds.

“I think we’re going to enjoy the journey,” said Ms Bucello, clearly delighted with such enterprising spirit. “Let’s everyone come on board and get this building built!”

She thanked the activities co-ordinators at Banksia Lodge, Anne Rendell and Chris Slater, who organised a concert at Banksia Lodge and raised $2,000 to kick-start the fundraising campaign.

There were thanks, also, for the Rotary Club of Foster, which has pledged $10,000 as well as any funds left over at the end of the year. Rotary president Ian Griffiths said the club has several wood raffles in aid of the project planned and one member has promised to divert the proceeds of a clearing sale to the cause.

“Foster Rotary is very proud to be on board and will continue to raise funds for this facility,” he said.

Llew Vale confirmed, in his capacity as a board member of Promontory District Finance Group, which is behind the Toora and Foster community bank branches of the Bendigo Bank, that the bank would be donating $60,000 over two years.

The proprietors of Foster Foodworks, Joe and Sandy Bucello, have pledged $10,000 over three years and Banksia Lodge Auxiliary has promised $5,000 each year for the next several years. The auxiliary ladies also provided a delicious afternoon tea at the campaign launch, while Julie Need and Jenny Roffey collected pledges and donations and Barbara Morris sold $2 stickers and took orders for $100 pavers to be engraved with the donor’s name (up to 34 characters). The pavers will be in red brick and will be placed in the garden of the new facility. The stickers carry the smart gum leaf and Banksia cone logo designed by local secondary college students under the guidance of Year 11 visual communication teacher Chris Moore. An amalgamation of the designs of students Shaun Chaseling and Georgina Williamson was chosen and they were presented with a framed certificate and a prize for their efforts.

For information about how you can donate to the PCAC fundraising effort, contact Julie Need on 0429 816 267.

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