A new glass mosaic sign graces the exterior of the HUB near its main entrance.

A new glass mosaic sign graces the exterior of the HUB near its main entrance.

Ashcroft HUB Society celebrates first anniversary

A group of dedicated and hardworking volunteers has transformed the former school site into a vibrant community meeting place.

The Ashcroft HUB society celebrated its first anniversary on July 19, with a small gathering at the HUB (the former Ashcroft Elementary School site on Hill Street). About 30 people—some of them representing groups and organizations that have helped the society, and some of them volunteers who have played a vital role in getting the society going and keeping it running—gathered to watch a slide show, take a tour, and enjoy refreshments.

“There’s a vast array people who pour time into our community,” said HUB organizer Vicky Trill. “That’s what makes small communities so amazing. People come here to our small town and say ‘There’s so much going on!’”

The impetus to form the society came when School District No. 74 decided to close AES after the 2014–15 school year. “It was a real kick in the stomach when we lost AES,” said Trill. “It’s a real loss to lose an elementary school, and we didn’t want to lose the building as well.” She noted that some school buildings, once they close, get into a sorry state, and no one wanted to see that happen in Ashcroft.

Trill spoke with others, who asked what would happen to various community groups that have used the building for years. “We wondered what we would do,” she said, adding that the playground equipment was slated to be pulled out when the school closed. “We said ‘Someone should do something,’ so a group of people got together and formed a society.”

They approached SD74 right away, but were not sure what they wanted to do. A business plan was put together, based on what the society felt they could do, and an arrangement was made to lease the building from the school district for $1 a year. However, Trill says that when they saw the monthly utility bills, the amount came as a shock. “It was a big mountain, but we felt passionate about it.”

Sustainability is a huge component of the HUB society’s plans. They lease out portions of the building to various non-profit groups, including Make Children First, as well as to a photography studio, and provide rental space for bands and storage space for the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society, who have also staged two theatrical productions there.

Karate, a variety of fitness and dance classes, and a youth group also took space in the building. Many of the glass mosaic pieces being installed in the town have been created in one of the building’s former classrooms.

A $5,000 donation from Interior Savings for a sustainability project led the society to create a comprehensive fitness facility and sell memberships. Community Futures donated a key fob system which allows members to access the gym any time of day or night, and more donations came from Second Time Around, the Village of Ashcroft, the B.C. Interior Community Foundation, the provincial government, and the United Way. On July 19 Geralyn Alain, senior resource development manager for United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo, was on hand to present the society with a cheque for $10,000.

Ashcroft HUB Society members received a cheque for $10,000 from United Way last week. (from l) Mimi Kopanyas, United Way’s Geralyn Alain, Juanita Little, Susan McLean, Stefanie Walker, and Vicky Trill. Photo by Barbara Roden

While Trill acknowledged how important this type of funding is, she also noted the society could not exist without the hundreds of hours that volunteers put in, doing everything from putting up signs to trimming the bushes. She said that the society has big plans for the future.

“We want to keep, and increase, our partnerships, increase the services we provide, increase the usage of the site, and increase its sustainability, for wellness, recreation, and the arts. The support we have from the community is so heartwarming.”

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