The Rotary Club of Rossland presented the $10,000 grand prize from the “100 Rosslanders Who Care” fundraiser to the Rossland Society for Environmental Action (RSEA) and Rossland Summit School (RSS), members of the Rossland Community Garden.
Rossland Rotary came up with an innovative and engaging way to host their 100 Rosslanders Who Care event at Red Mountain on March 17. Rotary invited 50 of the donators to attend the event in the Red Mountain parking lot for a pandemic-style presentation, while the remaining 50 voted online.
Masked Rotarian volunteers guided vehicles into their parking spots, where they dialed their radio frequency into the microphone, while sipping Tim Hortons hot chocolate and enjoying delicious treats from Mountain Nugget.
“We had a great team who put all that technology and organized everything, and at the end of the night that we were able to have so many people gather to witness such a wonderful thing, something original that we’ve never done before,” said Rotary president Fiona Martin.
“I’m feeling very heart-warmed by what happened last night.”
The 100 Rosslanders Who Care initiative was first introduced by 40-year Rotarian Don Vockeroth.
“A friend of mine from Elliot Lake, he did it there in their Rotary Club and when he explained it to me, I said, ‘Man, that is totally awesome,’” said Vockeroth. “What can we do locally to promote that? I brought it up with the club, and they were so enthusiastic about doing it.”
Rotary then embarked on a mission to find 100 donations from Rosslanders, and in the end, the community responded – 103 local residents and businesses donated $100 each to meet and exceed the Rotarian’s $10,000 goal.
About a dozen non-profit groups entered the contest and that number was whittled down to five finalists. In addition to RSEA and RSS, the Rossland Arena Society, KBRH Health Foundation, Rossland Museum, and the Black Jack Ski Club made very strong cases in speeches at the event, all worthy projects of their own.
“All of them put together solid projects,” said Martin. “But any time you involve children, people are going to have their heart strings tugged a little bit.”
For Penny Johnson, RSEA representative, the funds provide a vital windfall.
“I am so happy for the Rossland Summit School and the Rossland Society for Environmental Action, who are partners in this project and it really means a lot to us,” said Johnson.
“Not just to move the community garden but to provide an outdoor learning program and centre, not just for the school but community residents as well.”
RSEA teamed up with Rossland Summit School and the Rossland Community Garden in a collective effort to enter the contest.
The original community garden at Jubilee and 7th Avenue, adjacent to RSS, was very popular with Rosslanders and at 100 per cent capacity since its inception in 2010. However, in 2016 garden users noticed that the soil was saturated as the nearby wetland began to seep into the lower points of the garden.
This significantly reduced the quantity and quality of food production. In addition, the cold mountain runoff delayed an early planting schedule.
Johnson says the funds will go directly to moving the community garden from its current location to higher and dryer ground at 7th Ave. and St. Paul.
“Pandemic gardening is huge and this is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to participate in such a worthwhile project,” said Johnson.
The garden provides an invaluable learning tool for for the students at RSS, a benefit for the community, and is also a way to engage seniors and other residents.
“I think it’s a great project,” said Martin. “And it really is community based as well. Some of the other projects are very specific, but when you talk about kids being able to access an outdoor classroom and get their hands dirty in a community garden, I think that’s a really great project.”
For Vockeroth, the result leaves everyone in Rossland a winner.
“I love the fact we live in a community that cares.”