Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 31, 2014
For a community that can sometimes come off a bit cynical or jaded, this week’s opening of Murray House was a proud moment for the organizing committee, the community at large and the folks in Brandon who worked and gave selflessly to make it happen.
Although a bit delayed in its launch, the grand reveal was full of smiles and handshakes as the doors swung open to the new facility and the long list of those in need learned they could settle in next week as they fight a brave fight against cancer.
Murray House bucked the trend of megaprojects in this province as the largest portion of the capital investment came solely through donations and naming rights within the complex. One need not look too far to see the bevy of businesspeople, community groups and citizens who have given to the project.
On a recent tour, I had the opportunity to check out the facility with fundraising
co-ordinator Karen Chrest and of the handful of rooms upstairs in the complex (each in excess of a $100,000 donation), they include donations from a collection of local businesses, and a few prominent local families, including one heavily involved in the political scene.
It is refreshing to see what can happen when projects like Murray House reach out to the community to build on the dream, as well as nice to see a project in which the primary vein of funding is private donations as opposed to solely public funds.
Murray House did it right and in doing so did right by the community. This truly is a complex the community built through donations, time and support and it was heartwarming to see and hear of donations coming from all ages and in all amounts.
Whether it was a bake sale, a local lodge that donated all it had, or social groups like
4-H coming forward, it all came together in one goal. This community and the surrounding communities that will access the complex will be better as a result of this project.
You would be hard-pressed to find a family that has not been touched by cancer and this complex and its accessibility will hopefully help ease what is a tremendously stressful time on families.
The $2.85 million came solely from Westman-area donors. As Laurie Murray, campaign co-chair noted, “If we can make life even a little bit more manageable for people that are facing the worst of times, we will have accomplished our goal.”
This project shows tremendous opportunities exist in this community and a project like Murray House is a learning experience for those seeking to build on public-private partnership opportunities for the greater good of the region.
Murray House could stand as a framework for those seeking to fund projects with an element of private funds — projects like the Strand Theatre.
The Strand project has struggled in the past with the element of public versus private funds and what has always been, in the community’s eyes, a chicken and egg scenario. It has taken a bit of evolution to come to this point in the project’s existence and through the established fundraising team put in place, it is hoped they can recreate the magic that was Murray House.
Obviously the projects have vastly different outcomes and scopes of use, but the framework is something that can be overlaid on new projects and possibilities of this nature.
If the fundraising cabinet is able to draw from donors in the community, much like Murray House had, then there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the Strand and the establishment of a downtown entertainment complex, something that at its basest level is good for the community.
Mentioning another project of the donor nature is not meant at all to detract from the work of Murray House, but more so to commend the formula officials have happened upon to help those in need while dealing with one of the most frightening times in their life.
Further, it is tremendous to see the list of names on the donor wall in the house and scattered throughout the complex. It is awe-inspiring to see the level of giving in the Westman area.
Those who do well in this community and build on ideas of hope and hard work should be commended for their efforts. The opening of Murray House this week is one of those examples of a community that not only believes that mantra, but when called on to meet the need, acts on it as well.