McGregor Columbian Club celebrates Ontario Trillium Grant



By Ron Giofu


Upgrades have been steadily occurring at the McGregor Columbian Club and the latest round was celebrated last Friday night.

The McGregor Columbian Club, which operates what was formerly known as the McGregor Knights of Columbus Hall, received a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation earlier this year and used it to complete a heating and cooling project that also included new technology such as Wi-Fi-controlled thermostats.

“We put on six new units,” explained McGregor Columbian Club president Evan Belanger.

The project began May 1 and recently concluded, and the Friday night celebration was to celebrate the completion. The McGregor Columbian Club was recognized by both Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and Ontario Trillium Foundation grant review team member Dan Allen.

McGregor Columbian Club president Evan Belanger (centre) accepts a plaque from OTF grant review team member Dan Allen (left) and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak in recognition of a successfully completed project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Natyshak thanked the club and the volunteers therein for their hard work.

“That impact goes a long way,” he said.

Noting the other work done at the McGregor Columbian Club over the years, Natyshak added that the impact of that makes places like McGregor more liveable and workable for people and praised their efforts.

Allen said the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has invested roughly $4 million since 2015 in Essex, Kent and Lambton counties. He said the McGregor Columbian Club was given their $150,000 grant under the OTF’s “Connected People” initiative, noting that the club is a place where the public is welcomed and is an accessible place to enjoy.

“We awarded you with the grant because we were confident you would get the work done in no time and we were right,” Allen told Belanger.

Belanger stated that “we have a dedicated board” that volunteers at the McGregor Columbian Club. He said projects were done in 2016-17 to make the club more accessible including upgrading doorways and washrooms. The club also put in new LED lighting in the parking lot of the Walker Road facility.

More work is planned for the future, Belanger stated.

“The parking lot is very, very old,” he said, “including the drainage underneath.”

The roof is also due for replacement as Belanger pointed out it is over 30-years-old and has had leaks to it patched.

OTF grant review team member Dan Allen and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak celebrated the completion of a project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundatin. From left: Peter Misfud, Frank Van Der Pryt, Dan Allen, Robin Beaune, Neil Renaud, Dale Martin, Evan Belanger, Taras Natyshak.

The McGregor Columbian Club is also looking to upgrade its business practices, including the acquisition of new debit and credit machines. There have also been efforts to acquire new point of sale systems to better track inventory and analyze their business.

“There are always projects on the go,” said Belanger.

The McGregor Columbian Club regularly hosts bingos, with bingo sessions being held every Tuesday night and turkey basket bingos on Sunday. They host a beanbag league every Thursday and also host regular events for Community Living Essex County, Alhambra Garcia Caravan #230 and the Katelyn Bedard Bone Marrow Association. There are also charitable contributions, which Belanger said includes a recent donation of over 1,500 canned goods to the Society St. Vincent de Paul and the free turkey dinner that is being offered Dec. 16 from 3:30-6 p.m. The latter will likely see 700-800 free turkey dinners served.

The McGregor Columbian Club has about 70 volunteers and ten employees, Belanger added.


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