Over the past few months we have kept you informed about the overall impact of the pandemic on OSCA’s operations and finances. While we have tried our best to remain positive and optimistic, you will have noticed that over time the messaging has shifted from “we’ll get through this” to “we are going to need help if we want to keep the Firehall open.” Over the past months, Staff, the Board, the Executive, and countless volunteers have continued to work incredibly hard to come up with alternate ways to generate revenue. We have successfully transitioned to a full suite of virtual programming, secured a significant grant through Red Cross Canada, and managed to open up in-person After-4 in a safe and secure environment. But none of that will be enough to keep the Firehall open in the long term, and we are “ringing the bell” and calling on all residents to help Save Our Firehall!
Below is the article that was published in the November OSCAR, introducing the notion and benefits of a local community fundraising effort.
The rewards of fundraising
In 2000, OSCA initiated a 10-year $500,000 fundraising drive to renovate and expand the Firehall. After years of volunteer architects, students and community advocates developing design charettes, legendary Maritime Kitchen Parties and silent auctions, as well as lobbying efforts with the city and provincial governments, a renovated Firehall was officially re-opened in 2010. The expansion allowed for the doubling of Firehall programming and a safe, attractive place for children and adults to congregate. It was a community vision successfully realized.
In September 2021 the Firehall will celebrate its centennial. Built in 1921, the No. 10 Graham Fire Station actively served Ottawa for 50 years. In the mid-1960s when the Fire Department was streamlining its services, No. 10 was threatened with demolition. Heritage buffs and community champions rose to the occasion and in 1978 the Firehall opened its doors as The Ottawa South Community Centre.
The former No. 10 Graham Fire Station, known as the Old Fire Hall, was designated a Heritage site in 1996. There is a long and rich history of community participation and advocacy in OOS.
Volunteer associations in one form or another date back to the 1920s. OSCA itself was formally established in 1974 the same year as OSCAR. One of OSCA’s first advocacy efforts was securing the Firehall as a community centre.
The Firehall and the Old Ottawa South Community Association (OSCA) make up a rather unique community entity. You need only check out its logo to see how the two are intertwined. This is true both historically and figuratively. The Firehall serves as Old Ottawa South’s (OOS) community centre and strives to deliver programming at affordable prices. It is also home to OSCA, OOS’s community association. Under a Program Delivery Agreement with the City of Ottawa, the OSCA Board of Directors manages the operations of the Firehall and its staff.
Social contact restrictions due to COVID-19 have had a huge impact on our Firehall’s ability to sustain itself. To thrive, the Firehall relies on revenues from the programs it delivers. The City owns the Firehall and maintains it but doesn’t cover operational costs. If we are to make up the shortfall in operational costs, we need to fundraise.
Fundraising for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts requires commitment and discipline. It also needs some light-hearted souls to keep spirits high and to enjoy a good laugh. In the effort to protect and support our community centre we will discover so much more about ourselves. It is an opportunity to help secure our community centre and to shape our future.
We will also learn more about our Firehall, the man after whom it is named (Ottawa Fire Chief John Graham), what is meant by a “cartouche,” the transformation over time of this “low-slung bungalow- style” fire station to community centre, and the services it now provides. You will also get to know your community association better. How it works.
There is also a lot of room to research stories, write articles, take photographs, discover hidden community niches, cover community events and local business stories. You will meet interesting individuals who have expertise in digital fundraising, communications, computer & software infrastructure and you will increase your knowledge about the not-for- profit sector.
Fundraising is the kind of undertaking that forces an organization to take a good hard look at itself: its revenue sources, operational expenses, administrative makeup and vision for the future. Why? Well, typically an organization doesn’t fundraise unless it really has to and only if it is critical to the survival of the organization itself. Fundraising is also a time to dream big, imagine a future, develop a vision.
The OSCA Board of Directors is made up of community volunteers who chair a variety of committees, advancing the interests of OOS. These committees include: Finance, Planning & Zoning, Traffic & Safety, The Green Dreamers, Senior Watch, Diversity & Inclusion, Operations, Communications, Governance, Human Resources, Nominations & Elections, etc. The Firehall is where the Board of Directors and its committees meet. It’s where open houses, special events & public meetings are held. The Firehall is a full-service community centre. Let’s make sure that the doors of the Firehall remain “open.” Let’s make sure that we have a community centre for generations to come.
So, if you think you’d like to join us and rediscover OOS, keep a close eye on our website at: oldottawasouth.ca
Sign up, join our fundraising task force or let us know how you would like to participate. We’re a fun, hard-working group and we’re looking for you.
To find out more about what a tremendous undertaking the renovations of the Firehall was go to the article in the September 2010 OSCAR.
For more on the history of the Firehall go to https://heritageottawa.org/50years/no-10-graham-station
“The rewards of fundraising” appeared in the November issue of the OSCAR.