The stars were shining brightly in Creston on Saturday night. To be honest, I didn’t notice whether the sky was clouded over — the stars that grabbed my attention were all indoors at the grand soiree put on by the Creston – Kootenay Foundation (CKF).
It’s a long, slow process to create a community foundation that generates sufficient funds to make a big difference in the area it serves. In the 17 years of its existence, the CKF has grown to hold about $650,000 in funds, according to spokesman Larry Brierley. With recent interest rates at record lows, the fund doesn’t reap a huge return on its investments (which, I assume, are conservative and as safe as possible).
The simple fact is, though, that the funds dispersed, inevitably in pretty small amounts, make a huge difference in a community that is used to operating on a shoestring budget. A few hundred bucks, placed in the hands of creative, dedicated volunteers, can have a large impact on the lives of our friends and neighbours.
That message hit home when those in attendance on Saturday were shown a documentary produced by the remarkable Creston Film Group. Representatives of numerous organizations appeared on the screen to explain how CFK disbursements were used and to express their gratitude.
If the CFK has struggled to establish a sufficiently large perpetual fund, it should take heart in Saturday night’s event. More than 200 people ponied up $50 a head to attend and many of them bid on silent auction items donated by our spectacularly generous business community. To their credit, organizers didn’t turn attendees upside-down in an attempt to extract all the money in their pockets. They understood, no doubt, that the night was more about education, explaining the value of a community foundation and providing evidence that it has become an important funder for a wide range of endeavours.
One of the most evident things on Saturday night was that people enjoy the opportunity to dress up and socialize. Long gowns, suits and ties and even the occasional tuxedo helped give the occasion an air of dignity. This was a night when everyone in the room was a star. From emcees Brian Lawrence and Dan Caverly to the Creston Community Band to the CFK directors to the amazing Carol Huscroft and her catering team (I don’t remember when I had a better buffet dinner) to the volunteer bartenders to honoured volunteer Julie Ewashen, everyone involved helped to create a memorable evening.
As I wandered around the room, chatting with friends and enjoying the atmosphere, it occurred to me how much of a factor the Creston Room was on this night of stars. I thought back only a few years when Creston’s largest meeting room was a dreary, utilitarian space that featured poor lighting and lousy acoustics. The renovations, part of the many, many upgrades done at the Creston and District Community Complex, came about due to the efforts of more stars. Dozens of committed volunteers worked their tails off to come up with a plan to upgrade our rec centre and build an aquatic facility, and the stars came out in the form of Yes voters, who wanted to commit their tax dollars to a healthier, more vibrant future for their community.
The results on the exterior of the building, and in the aquatic centre, fitness area and other new construction, are obvious. But the other upgrades can’t be overestimated and I think it is fair to say that the simple elegance of a Creston Room that can now be lit to accommodate almost any function and that now features very good acoustics contributed to a very successful evening.
Not so long ago, the Creston Valley had a reputation as a “no” community. The referendum to fund the CDCC upgrades changed all that and we are now seeing progress around town that will make our town more appealing to tourists, to potential new residents and to those of us who make this our home.
Among the many positive changes we are experiencing is the growing public awareness about the Creston Kootenay-Foundation. On that very special night of stars, none shone more brightly than the CKF.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.