Elk Falls fund still aiding people
A benevolent society formed while the Elk Falls mill operated in Campbell River has donated $4,000 to the Dawn to Dawn Care-A-Van program, a mobile health-care unit that supports homeless and at-risk individuals in the Comox Valley.
Millworkers and staff formed the society by donating a couple of dollars every pay day to a fund intended to benefit employees during abnormal times, such as tending to a sick child who required medical treatment in Vancouver. Workers could borrow up to a certain amount, paid back via payroll deductible.
“It worked really good for us,” said Ron Johnson, a mill employee who chairs the society.
“Different times in people’s lives they do have extraordinary circumstances.”
The Elk Falls mill donated a significant amount of money to various causes before shutting down in 2009. A unique feature of the mill was its ‘boneyard’ that sold bits of metal and scrap. The money it generated was donated to the United Way.
“The mill itself was a very vibrant little place,” Johnson said.
Because it is a registered government society, the benevolent society needs to either donate funds to charity or hand it over to the B.C. government.
The choice was a no-brainer.
The society has earmarked two-thirds of its money ($100,000) for Campbell River — where about two-thirds of the staff live — while one-third ($30,000) will be split between Comox Valley charities, to reflect the number of Valley residents who worked at the mill. Beneficiaries have included the Comox Valley Food Bank, Salvation Army and a women’s shelter in Campbell River.
The society has also purchased a new set of parallel bars for St. Joseph’s Hospital. This donation represents a personal connection for Johnson who, having suffered a broken lag, can sympathize with hospital staff required to lift patients.
“You get a poor lady who’s trained, it’s not her fault she’s only 110 pounds,” he said.