Doors at Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre in downtown Trail will remain open this summer after Home Goods Furniture donated $9,000 to make that happen. (From left) The centre’s nutrition manager LuAnne Oslund, recently retired coordinator Ken Potter, Ernest LeRose from Home Goods, and Sanctuary’s new coordinator Leanne DeBiasio.

Doors at Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre in downtown Trail will remain open this summer after Home Goods Furniture donated $9,000 to make that happen. (From left) The centre’s nutrition manager LuAnne Oslund, recently retired coordinator Ken Potter, Ernest LeRose from Home Goods, and Sanctuary’s new coordinator Leanne DeBiasio.

Trail business keeps doors open for free childcare this summer

Until Home Goods stepped in, the pre-teen care centre was going to shut down for two months

An act of benevolence by a local business has families breathing a sigh of relief now that their children will be safe and cared for this summer in a downtown Trail haven.

In short, Home Goods Furniture has donated $9,000, the money needed, to keep the doors of Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre open over the new few months.

Care is 100 per cent free for children ages eight to 12 years, and includes a snack and hot meal.

“I read the article, in the Trail Times, regarding the closure of Sanctuary for the summer,” Rob LeRose of Home Goods began. “And the potential hardship that it might place on families and the children that Sanctuary serves.”

LeRose fondly recalled meeting Ken Potter, Sanctuary’s 20-year program coordinator, and his wife Gail.

“That was several years ago … and I have always thought very highly of both of them,” LeRose shared. “They are truly wonderful , inspirational people. I know that Sanctuary has always been a big part of their lives, and I wanted to support the organization that is so important to them.”

Since 1998, the non-profit Generation to Generation Society has kept Sanctuary afloat during the school year and summer months through donations and grants.

For the first time in two decades the society did not have money to keep Sanctuary open July and August – that is, until Rob LeRose called out of the blue.

“The whole board was just blown away by Rob’s generosity and the quickness of it,” Barbara Gibson, from Generation to Generation, told the Trail Times. “The staff is excited, and especially happy, for those parents concerned about childcare over the summer,” she stressed.

“This will bring great relief to several of our parents who were wondering what they were going to do, so that is really, really good.”

As it has the past 20 years, Sanctuary will be closed the first two weeks of July to allow for staff vacation time.

With Home Goods’ donation already in the bank, on July 16, it will be business as usual Monday to Friday from 1-6:30 p.m. at the Bay Avenue locale.

That said, for the first time since 1998, there will be a new person leading the way.

Leanne DeBiasio is taking over the coordinator role after Potter retired last month.

“The generosity of Rob LeRose is absolutely inspiring,” she told the Times. “Closing for the summer was really impacting some of our Sanctuary families and now they have options.”

When the centre re-opens in two weeks, each day will include crafts, games and outings with staff and volunteers as well as a healthy snack and hot meal at 5 p.m.

“Through the past two years I have seen kids grow and develop social skills as they spend time with us,” DeBiasio said. “Kids that don’t get along elsewhere are encouraged to know each other in a different way at Sanctuary.

“Because the kids are here to eat, play and hangout with us, they learn skills through our conscious modelling and maintenance of the safe and judgment-free environment that is Sanctuary.”

It is a place where everyone is included and everyone is welcome, she added.

“Kids that struggle socially at school can learn skills that help them be successful friends. Kids that thrive socially at school are encouraged to know the value of the kids that aren’t usually in their friend group, (making) Sanctuary a place where kids can form positive peer groups that carry them through their teens.”

The centre is seeking volunteers for the summer and fall, so DeBiasio encourages anyone interested, to stop by for a chat.

“This summer and upcoming fall I plan to visit many of our local organizations who either support Sanctuary directly, or support our families or children, to introduce myself,” she explained.

“Generosity of time is also invaluable, and I hope we can start relationships that foster collaborations that benefit our children.”

One of the more immediate projects she is hoping for help with is a hands-on job.

“We are still looking at options, but we would like to design and build open storage for the kids’ backpacks and jackets inside the front door,” DeBiasio said. “We currently do not have enough hooks or designated space for these items. I am hoping to find a few volunteers with carpentry skills who could help me design and build something in July or August.”

To contact DeBiasio, call Sanctuary at 250.368.6142 during operating hours or email sanctuarytrail@shaw.ca.