Herb Weitzel, right, stretched out to get his paddle on the ball while teammate Jenny Gehl looked on during some recent Pickleball action at the Seventy Mile Access Centre (SMAC) in 2020. (Ken Alexander - correspondent)

SMAC offers helping hand to South Cariboo communities

Ken Alexander 70 Mile column

The Seventy Mile Access Centre (SMAC) is a step closer to getting its society number back.

Spokesperson Kathleen Judd said she and Marion Roman have finished putting four years of tax information together, including the two years prior to the new SMAC board taking over the centre’s operations. The work should help them reinstate the society number, although they may have to change the name of the society.

Getting the society number back is very important, Judd said, adding it will allow them to do more for community members. Judd noted she has heard some people are complaining about how SMAC is being run, but she hasn’t had anyone complain to her personally.

Apparently, most of the complaints have been about the cost of items in the second-hand store, she said. According to one of the volunteers, one comment being made was that “SMAC gets all of its stuff for free, so it shouldn’t charge so much.”

However, Judd noted money from the second-hand store pays for facility operating expenses. The building is old and there are significant costs to keep it running. Last year, firewood to keep the building warm cost $6,000.

During the winter, the electrical bill is around $1,200 a month to keep the 20-year-old furnace pumping heat throughout the facility, she said, adding the Telus bill for the phone and Internet is around $300 a month.

Judd said she believes the complaints are minor and could best be dealt with at an AGM. However, they can’t hold an AGM, during which concerns could be raised and answered, right now because of COVID-gathering restrictions.

“We can’t have a virtual AGM because most of our members don’t have computers, but we do put what we’re doing and why we’re doing it in our board minutes.”

Meanwhile, the board of directors has added a new account for the financial donations SMAC receives. This money will be used for larger projects after it has been approved by the membership and not just the board. Board members can’t vote on these project expenditures.

READ MORE: Ken Alexander’s regular correspondence for the 70 Mile area

The other savings account is for operations, such as hydro, firewood and other expenses to keep the facility running.

Judd also clarified another complaint about volunteers getting “first dibs” on the good stuff that comes in through donations. She said the volunteers don’t take much and would have to pay the same price as the public for any items.

“Stuff comes in and it’s held [in the gym] for 48 hours for COVID-safety,” Judd explains. “Then we sort it out there and we price it on Monday when [SMAC] is not open. A couple of volunteers take some stuff, but not very much.”

If it’s really good stuff, Judd said she puts a not-for-sale sticker on it, taking it off only when the public comes in, so they have an opportunity to purchase it.

“The volunteers mostly take clothes – a T-shirt or blanket.”

Judd adds any “like-new” things they receive, she puts in the Christmas Bazaar box and puts it on sale during the bazaar.

Helping hand

Volunteer efforts are needed so SMAC can continue the good work it does in 70 Mile House, as well the surrounding communities and organizations that need help with certain projects.

SMAC donated coats to the winter coat campaign in 100 Mile House the last couple of years. It also donates clothes for children in Mexico. Judd said some snowbirds who spend winter in Mexico like to take clothes for the children where they stay.

SMAC also provides food for the volunteers so they can have something to eat while they are working.

Last Christmas, it provided 32 Christmas hampers, which were packed up by Judd and two other volunteers and delivered to recipients who couldn’t come in to pick them up.

As a follow-up to the Christmas hamper campaign, SMAC is providing seven hampers on a weekly or on a two-week basis to individuals and families who need the help on a regular basis.

“If they don’t have the money, SMAC supplies the money and we go shopping on that, and we are still supporting the program,” Judd said.

SMAC is also providing support for two families in Ashcroft because Ashcroft doesn’t have a food bank, collects and distributes hockey equipment to the Boys and Girls clubs in Williams Lake and Vancouver and supplies suitcases for foster kids if they have a quick removal from a foster home. It also provides blankets and towels for SPCA cats and dogs.

The local group also helps the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre in 100 Mile House with its Christmas gift campaign by providing toys and games.

Because of COVID, SMAC is holding onto donated books that are in near new shape, so they can donate them when the pandemic is over.

Judd said SMAC also helps a Women’s Shelter in Chilliwack by providing soap, shampoo and whatever else is needed.

“Anybody in need who comes to us, they’re not going to be turned away,” she said. “We set out to help people who need it.”

SCMAC has three very hard-working volunteers – Judd, Roman and Ken Grant.

“Ken is our ‘Mr. Fix It’. He fixed the roof, built the new ramp and moves the heavy furniture. He helps change the light bulbs. We could do it but we don’t like to do it because it’s dangerous. So, he’s our main repair guy.”

After the COVID restrictions are over, Judd said all of the programs will be back on again– Coffee’s On, dog training group, pickleball, a free supper for all the community volunteers, the Christmas Bazaar and any other group that asks will be able to return.

Carriage driving

bursaries available

The BC Carriage Driving Society announces a new Young Driver Bursary Program for 2021.

Young people, who are keen to learn how to drive carriages, can go to www.bccarriagedriving.com to apply.

Three bursaries are available and the deadline is May 31, 2021.


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