Vittoria & District Community Centre, completed in 1988, has become a symbol of what people in rural areas can achieve. The reconstruction project bound the community together, and instilled a deep sense of accomplishment and pride among area residents. The VDCC is a focal point for the village and surrounding area, and will be for generations to come.
About 1969, The Vittoria Lions Club purchased from one of their members, Lion Harvey Oakes, a piece of property on which was situated a rather spacious turkey barn.
The Club totally renovated the barn, and ended up with a very functional building that served for nearly 20 years as a meeting place for the Lions Club, but more importantly as a Community Centre for Vittoria and the surrounding district.
In the mid-1980's, the Lions realized that the cost of undertaking the substantial renovations necessary to their building would be prohibitive for a single organization with limited resources. The Community Centre had proven to be a money pit because of its inefficiencies, and the Club found itself unable to perform the community work that was its mandate, because it was so costly to maintain and service the building.
So in 1984, a general meeting of the residents and organizations of Vittoria and the surrounding district was convened to determine whether or not a community centre was really needed. The answer was a resounding "Yes!" A questionnaire that had been widely distributed indicated there was overwhelming support for a new Centre.
Four community-minded organizations - the Vittoria Lions Club, the Vittoria Lioness, the Vittoria Firefighters Association and Firefighters Auxiliary, and the Thompson Memorial Park Committee - resolved to co-ordinate their efforts and promote the reconstruction of the Community Centre.
Architect Leonard Huget agreed to prepare a preliminary design, and cost estimates. The plan was to use as much of the existing building as feasible, but to enlarge and remodel as needed to provide the efficiencies and space desired. The reconstruction would include a new roof, foyer, lobby, lounge, central heating and air conditioning, band stand and exterior cladding. Acoustics would be improved, as would electrical, plumbing, insulation and landscaping.
Armed with Huget's projections, a tentative commitment from the anchor financiers, the results of their needs study and letters of support from every organization in the district and many individuals, the VDCC Steering Committee approached the Township of Delhi Council with the proposal that the municipality purchase the existing building for $1. Once municipally owned, application could be made for provincial funding. Township Council eventually agreed, provided the Thompson Memorial Park Committee accept the responsibility to act as the management committee for the project, and to guarantee capable management of the building in the future.
The projected cost for the "new" community centre was $250,000, but the fundraising committee decided it might be wiser to go for $300,000 in a three-way partnership with the Provincial Government, the Township of Delhi, and the local community, each bearing $100,000 of the cost.
The time between concept and construction seemed interminable, and after the project had been mothballed for some months while the new Delhi Arena was completed, the actual costs had soared above original estimates. Although staggered by the new costs, the fundraising committee was undaunted and resolved to plough ahead.
Application was made to the Ontario government for a Wintario grant for $142,000, and we were successful in acquiring that. The Township of Delhi pledged another $140,000, leaving the new VDCC Building Management and Finance Committee to raise $140,000 from the local community.
The Vittoria Lions Club, the Vittoria Lioness, the Vittoria Firefighters Association and Firefighters Auxiliary, and the Thompson Memorial Park Committee became the "Anchor Financiers" for the project, eventually pledging a total of $120,000. In fact, these same organizations were responsible for additional fundraising well beyond their pledged commitments. It was fortunate that they were, since the inclusion of new furnishings, a commercial dishwasher, and some other unanticipated items brought the total cost of the project to nearly $600,000.
|Beside the anchor financiers,
many other organizations within the community gave as generously as they
could. 3,000 brochures were distributed to present and former local residents.
Contributions were received from as far away as California, Nevada and British
The support of corporate and private contributors within the community was awesome. Support was also received from the business communities in Simcoe, Port Dover and Delhi. But it was the local commitment and generosity that made the project a success.
The fundraising activities were spearheaded by Tom Haskett and Gary Cooper who co-chaired the project's fundraising committee, and in the end, the local community had raised nearly $320,000!
VDCC MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Representatives of the anchor financiers formed the fundraising committee. Besides Gary Cooper and Tom Haskett, there were Fred and Rose Ludwig, Fred Snow, Jim Melville and Roger Cruickshank. The slogan "Together It Can Be Done!" was adopted for the project, and contributors were asked to "Give until it feels good".
Some special projects undertaken as fundraisers included an Auction Sale, production of a corn crop, and the first Vittoria District Pickup Raffle.
The Auction Sale took place at the Thompson Memorial Park, where new and used items were donated by local residents and businesses. Jim Young, Warren Burger and Tom Waldick were the auctioneers, and over $7,000 was realized.
The corn crop was seeded on rented land,
and virtually all inputs were donated. Most of the seed, fertilizer and herbicides
were also donated. A convoy of tractors owned and operated by volunteering neighbours
plowed and tilled the land, and seeded the crop. In the fall, other volunteers
combined the corn and trucked it to the elevators. Despite record-breaking heat
and dryness, and thanks to timely irrigation and the free volunteer inputs,
the corn crop raised approximately $25,000 for the VDCC project.
On Saturday, May 28, 1988, about 330 people jammed into the new 10,000 square foot Vittoria & District Community Centre to celebrate the official opening of the $600,000 building. By the end of 1989, thanks to the commitment and generosity of the citizens of Vittoria and district, the building was paid for - four years ahead of schedule.
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