During last year’s Room to Live charity concert, former mayor John Dooley challenged Nelson and area residents to raise $15,000— enough to renovate one room at Ward St. Place. This year Mayor Deb Kozak echoed the challenge, and as of Wednesday morning Nelson CARES had raised nearly doubled that amount.
“We’re sitting at approximately $13,500,” Nelson CARES chair Ron Little told the Star, noting that donations are still coming in. The final total will then be matched by an anonymous donor, which effectively means two more rooms will be able to be renovated. That brings the total number of rooms finished to 25, with 20 more to go. Just over one year into their three-year campaign, they’ve already raised more than half their goal.
“We’re really in awe of how generous this community is, and in particular how many individuals have come forward.”
Featuring performances from Laura Landsberg, Nelson cultural ambassador Bessie Wapp, Aryn Sherriff, Bo Conlan, Melody Diachun and Sydney Black, the energetic concert Friday evening at the Capitol Theatre also showcased the musical abilities of Clinton Swanson, Doug Stephenson and many others.
“The whole performance, the power they had and the passion in their singing, their willingness to work together — you could tell they were enjoying themselves,” said Little, who noted the performers are all eager to repeat their performances next year.
For Little the most powerful moment of the evening was hearing Ward St. Place resident Rob describe what the housing means for him, and how it’s helped him to find stability in his life.
“It really showed what Ward St. Place means to the community. The people there are growing together and getting strength from one another. Fundamentally what it does is give the residents a foundation. Once you take the stress of housing off their shoulders, they’re free to address the stresses and problems in other areas of your life.”
Little had an interesting conversation with one anonymous donor that evening.
“They told me they don’t want to be recognized, they don’t want to be in the limelight. Their real concern is for affordable housing. They wanted to set an example and take leadership in terms of giving back to the community.”
Newly-elected Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski sat in the front row, snapping iPhone photos of the divas performing. Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall was also in attendance.
Kozak was heartbroken to miss it, due to a fall earlier that day (see related story page 4). She shared her enthusiasm for the project with the Star from her hospital bed.
“I admire the strategy the society has used. They’ve raised a lot of money and been so persistent. I heard amazing things about the concert — I was so mad I couldn’t make it — but I heard the enertainment was fantastic.”
Councillor Valerie Warmington attended in her place.
The next event in the Room to Live campaign is the Coldest Night of the Year on Feb. 20.
Above and below photos by Peter Schramm