In a rare confluence of events last week, there were three celebrations, three noble causes, three projects in which the community was asked to help build.
A better art gallery. A south-end library. A larger hospital.
All very worthy causes, the library and hospital needing $1 million each, the gallery debuting a legacy campaign with a community goal of $50,000.
Barrie can do it, even in these tough times. The city has come together before, and has raised $34 million of the $35 million the Royal Victoria Hospital needs to help with its $400-million expansion that includes a cancer centre, 101 more in-patient beds and a much-larger emergency department.
The hospital, the library and the gallery are all essential projects for our growing region and growing city. We will likely hear more soon about a larger Barrie, as the city expands its boundaries southward into Innisfil.
But more importantly, they are community-building projects. They will bring people together for a cause, to build something better for us and our children. Families will be able to enjoy and experience art close to home; others will be able to take in Storytime at the new south-end branch, and still others will be able to get more-specialized health care.
Raising the money required will not be easy as many people have lost jobs or are experiencing reductions in their hours – and therefore, pay. Economic pain is being felt as low interest rates cut the income of retirees. The many people who derive their income from retail will see less too.
We are all in it together, however. We all can make a better city, if we apply our minds, our hearts and our energies creatively.
Last week was an incredible antidote to months dominated by roaring destruction in the Allandale area. Let’s hope that negativity never has a place again in our community, because we need to be building together as external economic influences bash at our confidence and quality of life. We need to be setting aside our differences and instead focusing on our future and building a better equipped, more resilient Barrie.
It’s amazing the impact one person can have – whether 11-year-old Grant, who sold wristbands as his mother battled cancer or Maurice MacLaren, a man who never had kids of his own but whose legacy now includes art programs for kids and whose historic home houses a preschool.
Most of us may never make headlines or have something named after us. But as we join together to support the gallery, the library or the hospital, we will know we played a part in creating and building a better Barrie. And for that, each of us will be better too.