Mayor Aaron Stone and Building Committee Chair, Pam Fraser cut the ribbon at the opening celebration of the Thrift Store Expansion. (Cole Schisler photo)

Mayor Aaron Stone and Building Committee Chair, Pam Fraser cut the ribbon at the opening celebration of the Thrift Store Expansion. (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary completes long awaited Thrift Store expansion

The new volunteer space will allow the Thrift Store to process more donations

The Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary unveiled their recently completed Thrift Store expansion at a small ceremony on Saturday, November 14.

RELATED: Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Store expansion well underway

The long awaited space will serve as a sorting facility for donations to the Thrift Store. The former sorting area will now act solely as a receiving area for donations. With their new space, the Thrift Store will be able to receive more donations, sort them more efficiently, and provide a great selection of items of Thrift Store customers. That money will then go back to the community in the form of pledges and donations.

The new space features a new office, a volunteer meeting space, volunteer washrooms, an outdoor patio, spacious working stations, and a clerestory design concept. The clerestory is a cost effective way to bring more natural light into the space.

The new space features a clerestory that lets in ample natural light. (Cole Schisler photo)

The new space features a clerestory that lets in ample natural light. (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary president, Jennifer Forrest opened the ceremony with greetings from B.C. Association of Healthcare Auxiliaries Vancouver Island area director, Simone Halpin.

Halpin’s message noted that the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary volunteers put in a combined 35,777 hours to support the community in 2019. They also donated or pledged $270,000 in 2019, and $205,000 up to April 2020.

RELATED: Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary donations top $266K in 2017

Building committee chair, Pam Fraser began the expansion project four and a half years ago when she served as president for the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary. In keeping with the holiday spirit, Fraser prepared a song in the style of the 12 Days of Christmas to illustrate the effort that went in to making the expansion happen.

“We had 10 floor plan changes, nine notary visits, eight engineers, seven council meetings, six hazard surveys, five town permits, four grants applied, three architects, two lots combined, and a statutory right of way.”

“Finally at the start of this year we had all our ducks in a row and we were ready to start building,” Fraser added. “But the rollercoaster wasn’t over, because on March 17, we closed the store due to the pandemic.”

Despite the risks posed by the pandemic, the Auxiliary chose to move forward with a $1.5 million contract with MKM Projects Ltd. Jordan Almond spoke on behalf of MKM. He said that working on the Thrift Store expansion meant a lot to him, and MKM.

“Early on in the process, the pandemic hit, and I was shaking in my boots. We didn’t know what was going to happen, or if this was going to go ahead,” Almond said.

“As the project progressed we found ways to save some money, get a new roof, and find ways to get you more and more of what you need. We want to see your project succeed, because if it succeeds then so do we. You guys have changed a lot in our lives. So thank you, thank you.”

Mayor Aaron Stone also shared a few words at the ceremony. Prior to the construction of the expansion, a Town bylaw required updated sprinkler systems for buildings on 1st Avenue that did renovations beyond a certain thresh hold. That bylaw would have made the Thrift Store expansion too expense to undertake. However, Stone and Ladysmith Town Council voted to repeal the bylaw so that the expansion could move forward.

“We have to reflect on how we treat the industry, and those who want to improve their communities, and try to make it easier for them. As well as holding up our values in terms of good quality projects that are good for our communities. This project is a great example of that,” Stone said.

Now that the new space is open, the Healthcare Auxiliary hopes to welcome volunteers both new and old to the new Thrift Store space. There are currently 255 members, and more are always welcome. Anyone who wants to volunteer with the Ladysmith Healthcare Auxiliary is encouraged to sign up online at: ladysmithhealthcareaux.ca/volunteer-members/.

The Thrift Store is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Customers are required to wear face masks and respect social distancing inside the store. Due to COVID, they are only accepting donations of clean, freshly washed, saleable clothing and household items. Donations must be limited to two bags, two boxes, or one of each at this time.