Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Night Shelter Trust can buy its buildings!

Our front gate with an advert painted on it.

One of the many media photos of me and my mate John from the Night Shelter Trust. The buildings we will buy are in the background.
The slogan for the student sleep out and our campaign.
Success at last.
The local newspaper announced it today. You can see it on the front page and page number three. We at the Night Shelter have been successful in raising the funds to purchase the buildings we currently rent.  We had a phone call from a Trust who invited us to put an application in for the remainder of the money we needed, and they granted it within minutes of me sending the application in. We still needed $25,659 of the $595,000 total.  Today I phoned our lawyer and he is making the arrangements to purchase the buildings. It has been a three year (at least) fund raising journey. When we told people that we had to raise $595,000 often the conversation went quiet. You could hear people thinking, "Yeah right - you'll never do it!" But we did. 
The feelings are strange. 
I have lived with this for so long it feels strange to be finished the project.  My study, my computer desktop and my workshop are cluttered with things related to raising money for the Night Shelter buildings purchase. Even our front gate was painted with a fundraising "Eat the Elephant" slogan. It is strange to finish it. There's a certain emptiness, part of my life is gone. Something else will fill it, but just now there's a hole.
The second feeling is one of absolute relief. We have chosen this "ownership road" which was a massive step to take. It would have been disastrous for the credibility of the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust if we had failed.  There were moments when I thought we might fail. A couple trusts that we had expected a lot from, who seemed to show a lot of interest and asked a lot of questions turned us down.  I had put a lot of work into preparing the applications and felt that we fitted their specifications. Without them I knew our job was pretty tough. So I feel absolutely relieved.
The third feeling is that of appreciation. The Dunedin community got in behind our cause. A kindergarten had a pajama day. A primary school's Young Vinnies group organised a mufti day. A couple of Rotary groups gave us a $1000. The University Students did their sleep out raising $12000.  The HR department at the University ran a quiz night and gave us $1500 Some rich people gave us $10,000. All the Trusts who gave us money were local Dunedin based Trusts. The Dunedin Community newspaper promoted our campaign for ten weeks...and so it went on... heaps and heaps of Dunedin people supported our cause.  Dunedin as a city has shown itself to be a caring community wanting to ensure there is care for the vulnerable. I so appreciate the generosity of my fellow citizens, young and old, rich and poor.
The fourth feeling is that of feeling absolutely responsible. The City has given the Night Shelter Trust this $595,000 asset. In a sense these two houses belong to the city and it is our job to use them well, I feel incredibly humbled by the generosity, but an added weight of responsibility to make sure we use the buildings wisely and well. 

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