Warwick residents ready to start $2 million drive for center

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Sue Engels has never seen a community behind a building project like this.

The head of Inspire Fundraising didn’t find a single person grumbling about the proposed East Lambton Community Center – the $11 million replacement for Centennial Hall in Watford.

“We didn’t even find them meeting at the Tim Hortons grumbling about the project,” she told council Monday as she recommended Warwick Township move ahead with a $2 million fundraising campaign for the project.

Engels talked to 47 people from all walks of life in Warwick about the project. One hundred per cent of them were in favour of the plan.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had this – 100 per cent really liked the project,” she says.
Engels says the community groups, families and business were interested in the details of the project but also the spark it could become for community growth.

“Most saw it as a catalyst for attracting and retaining families…for positive growth of the community,” Engels says.

And that excitement translated into a readiness to not only give money but to help raise the $2 million needed for the project. Sixty-two per cent of the people she talked to were ready to be on the fundraising team and 90 per cent said they would give money. In fact, Engels says there could be as much as $550,000 in early gifts ready to be handed over.

Engels believes Warwick should set up a fundraising team, pick a chair for the group and start a quiet campaign in the hopes of raising $1.2 million before the campaign goes public in November.

Council is behind the move. Deputy Mayor Jerry Westgate believes people are ready to get out to fundraisers and open their wallets.

“I think it is ideal timing. COVID hasn’t cost people money, they haven’t travelled any place…they’re all ready to get out and do something and I think they have the money to do it,” says Westgate.