The $30,000 loan was a big one for Creston’s Royal Canadian Legion. But after the old boiler in the basement stopped working, buying a new one was the only option.
And 10-and-a-half months after the loan was started, the final payment was made on Feb. 7.
“I wanted it done in one-and-a-half or two years,” said Branch No. 29 president Bob Swallow.
The first loan payment was made on March 20, 2011, and donations poured in, with some members giving $100 a month. By Feb. 7, the loan was getting closer to being paid off, and a longtime life member of the legion contributed the final $5,000.
And now the legion has bigger plans. After the boiler went, members started cleaning and painting downstairs, brightening up the bar-dining area of the building, which opened in 1948, and installed an on-demand hot water system.
The upstairs is the next area of focus, and though the end of March, Overwaitea Foods shoppers can help out by donating their More Rewards points to Branch No. 29.
Overwaitea will match the points, and turn over a donation to the legion when the three-month donation period, which began in January, is over.
“That money will help us complete the renovations upstairs,” said Swallow.
For the upstairs, the main plan is to drop the ceiling four to six feet, lowering heating and power costs, which are already down $3,000-$5,000 a year since installing the new boiler. The stage will also be turned partly into storage space.
The cost of the project is expected to be about $14,000, and the legion has also applied for grants from Columbia Basin Trust, the Town of Creston and Regional District of Central Kootenay Areas A, B and C to help out.
After they paid for the boiler, Swallow would like to complete the renovation without imposing on members.
“It’s all going to have to be done with no extended help from legion members,” he said.
Although the legion hosts regular dinners, barbecues, dances and meat draws to raise funds, profit can’t be kept and used by the organization — it must all be given back to to the community; last year, $4,200 was donated to local students (through bursaries) and non-profits.
Proceeds from the legion’s ladies auxiliary are vital to its longevity, as they pay the annual taxes.
Keeping the facility operating is vital for community groups, including scouts and cadets, which meet there in space donated by the legion. So it was a no-brainer to get on board with the Overwaitea points program.
“Our main goal is to raise funds, but not for ourselves,” he said. “Overwaitea gave us the opportunity to raise funds we can actually use. We jumped in with both feet.”