Two large private donations are helping Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) in their push to complete their new headquarters on the corner of Clinton St. and Greig Ave.
Dr. Colleen Froese, along with Bryan and Lynn Gascon, have made donations that Terrace SAR vice-president Dave Jephson said rivalled the size of some corporate donations.
“It’s incredible, I tell people, and I’m comfortable saying it, sometimes it’s emotional,” said Jephson. “To me there’s more meaning in why people want to give than the actual what they give, everybody has a different reason to support us.”
According to Jephson, Terrace SAR has already spent $1.4 million on the headquarters. He estimated that it would cost an additional $500,000 to $600,000 to complete the building and get full occupancy. That number could change because the project is built using donated work, time and money, making it difficult to plan to the end.
The organization has been granted temporary occupancy in the lower 36,000 square feet of the building, which still needs insulation and more drywall, among other work. The upstairs part of the building has some wiring but it is otherwise undeveloped.
Bryan and Lynn Gascon, owners of the Terrace Canadian Tire, thought about a donation after hearing Jephson speak on a local radio station.
“You just have to talk to Dave, he’s so dedicated to the cause that you get swept up in the enthusiasm,” said Bryan Gascon. “Very dedicated man, great guy and he’s the right man for that job and gives countless hours, so we can’t say enough good things about him and search and rescue.”
The couple considered donating equipment, but decided a monetary donation would be more helpful because it could go toward what is most needed.
“They’re an award-winning search and rescue, they help so many people and now probably COVID-19 stalled their fundraising efforts a little bit so let’s help them out where we can and we did, that was it,” said Gascon.
Colleen Froese is a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia. She grew up in Terrace and said her father used to look for friends on the Skeena River before there was organized search and rescue in the area. She also needed to be rescued herself after she broke her ankle cross country skiing in the Callaghan Valley 10 years ago.
“I broke my ankle in a different place, of course, but needed rescuing, so you never know when you are going to need some search and rescue no matter where you are in the world, and Terrace is really fortunate to have so many enthusiastic people who are willing to help others,” she said.
Froese took a tour of the building and appreciated the dedication of Jephson and all the volunteers building the centre and thought it would be a good way to give back to the community. She also sees the need for search and rescue services through her work.
“In my professional life I work with people who’ve experienced trauma in their life, and I know that having the best support available from the beginning of the trauma to later on care can help prevent long term problems,” she said.
Jephson is thankful for all the donated time, equipment, labour and money for the project, but said there is a need for industry moving to the area to contribute.
“We still believe that the corporations, and the people coming on this gas project who are going to affect us over the next ‘x’ number of years should be contributing, we are trying to figure out how to work with all the new people coming into town,” he said.