Funding gets St. Mary’s SHOPS across the finish line

By Helen Murphy    

SHERBROOKE – Federal funding of $66,700 will help complete a program space for Sherbrooke Opportunities Society (SHOPS), which could start operating as early as September.

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser was in Sherbrooke Saturday, June 17, to announce ACOA funding for the facility, which will offer programming for local adults with intellectual disabilities. SHOPS will match that contribution, which will complete the last phase of the project at Memorial Place. Construction work is nearing completion.

Memorial Place is the new wing attached to St. Mary’s Education Centre and Academy that houses a room for Kids First and another that will provide a homebase/workshop for SHOPS. It will also serve as a memorial to past educators and veterans.

Fraser said the investment is not a “one-off”, noting recent federal investments in the local legion and fire hall. He told the crowd gathered at St. Mary’s Education Centre and Academy that none of these projects would be possible without strong community support behind them. In particular, Fraser praised the leadership of the late Colin “Duke” Coady in getting the SHOPS project to this milestone. Others shared in accolades for Coady, the driving force behind SHOPS and president of the group when he died suddenly in April.

St. Mary’s Warden Michael Mosher called the federal funds “one of the final pieces of the puzzle” in realizing Coady’s dream for SHOPS. He thanked Fraser for his support of the project “since day one.”

The idea for this program was put forth by Coady when discussions were held in 2009 around the amalgamation of the two schools and how the renovation could also serve community needs.

“May he rest in peace knowing that his passion for this project was not in vain,” said SHOPS secretary Lisa MacDonald. “It’s been a long road.”

Plans are now underway to prepare and launch programs in the fall, so SHOPS will be consulting with community members to ensure that Memorial Place provides the required needs for participants and the community. The group is calling for volunteers to step forward and share their time and talents for the project, especially in the position of president.

“We need a person who has a vested interest in this project with the tools and resources to lead us into this set up and programming stage plus any others who want to be part of this,” said MacDonald. “Election or appointment will take place at our next meeting in July, which will be announced in the municipal newsletter.” Anyone interested in assisting with the project can also send an email to lisamac@seasidehighspeed.com.