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Fundraising campaign launched for new Family Support Centre

The Family Support Centre – Hay River's shelter for women and children – has kicked off its fundraising campaign for a new building.

The campaign was launched with a by-donation family breakfast on May 26 at Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre, complete with musical performances, face painting and door prizes.

Janet-Marie Fizer, left, chair of the board of the Family Support Centre, and Kristine Vannebo-Suwala, the centre's executive director, hold a blueprint of a proposed new building at the official  launch of a fundraising campaign on May 26. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"It's a very exciting day," said Janet-Marie Fizer, the chair of the board of the Family Support Centre, noting it was a culmination of two or three years of work.

The board has done a lot of strategic planning, capital planning and communications in preparation for the campaign launch, she said. "And they're geared up and ready to go, and so is our staff."

Fizer said the goal is to raise up to $3 million over the next three years.

That is amount of money needed to put up a new facility.

"We're going to need a lot of support from everybody for this endeavour," said Fizer.

She said there is no donation too small, and there are many ways that people can help out with the effort, such as volunteering for events or holding their own fundraisers.

The chairperson added the centre will also be seeking government support for the project.

"We do not have any committed yet, but certainly as part of this launch we'll be out trying to confirm where we can find funding," she said.

The Family Support Centre's previous facility, which was in operation since 1992, can no longer be repaired and has been closed.

In July of last year, the shelter was relocated to a temporary residence to continue providing services.

Kristine Vannebo-Suwala, the executive director of the Family Support Centre, said the three-year fundraising campaign is looking to raise approximately $2.6 million to $3 million.

She said the campaign will be directed towards corporations, businesses and community residents.

Vannebo-Suwala said there is also hope for help from the territorial and federal governments.

The closed building on Riverview Drive was a five-bedroom facility.

"Our goal is to have a 10-bedroom facility in the same location," said Vannebo-Suwala.

A new facility would also include office space and workspace, and enough room to offer programs.

Vannebo-Suwala said it might be a couple of years before a new centre is built, depending on how the fundraising goes.

The old building is also awaiting demolition.

Vannebo-Suwala noted the Family Support Centre – an independent non-governmental organization funded by the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority – will mark its 30th year of service in 2019.

Since 1989, it has provided a safe haven and support to women and children fleeing family violence, while working on advocacy and education to help support strong families and healthy relationships.

The centre has had as many as 180 clients in a single year.

It serves a large region of the southern NWT from Hay River to as far west as Fort Liard.