Société du Centre Communautaire Rivière la Paix is asking people in the region to consider attending its bingo every Wednesday to help ensure the Centre Chevaliers in Falher can stay open.
The bingo has been a staple in the community for decades, but with the hall struggling to financially stay afloat after the two-year pandemic drained its bank accounts, difficult operational decisions are being made. Bingo attendance has slowly dwindled over the years, making it economically not viable to run if more people do not start playing again.
“The game is a lot of fun and is a great way to socialize,” says vice president Paige Wolfe, adding that the committee really does not want the bingos to be eliminated from the hall’s events.
“The food is delicious, the staff and volunteers are always smiling, and fellow bingo goers are happy to help with knowledge of the game.”
Wolfe explains that in order to be financially viable, weekly bingo attendance has to be around 75 players. Although recent weeks have seen over 80 people attend, through the early part of the year there were only around 35 people each week attending.
“More than ever our rural communities are in search of connection,” says president Cheryl Isert.
“It’s an opportunity to support community events, volunteer our time, and have fun with others. Any time I volunteer I enjoy the conversations and connections I make.”
Both Isert and Wolfe say their board members are all trying to ensure the hall can recover from the financial woes all community halls suffered through the pandemic’s lockdown and restrictions.
Unfortunately, because there was virtually no income for two years, the Centre Chevaliers’ repairs and maintenance also had to be neglected. The board is working diligently and continuously to volunteer their time to fix items in the hall and to apply for grants to assist in the capital replacements that are required.
“We are hoping that community members who have specialized skillsets may be willing to come help us do some basic repairs to the building,” says Isert.
“We have some simple maintenance items that need to be done, like wall repairs and installing weather stripping that we need help with. Until we are able to rebuild a contingency fund, we need some help with repairs that we are unable to do.”
Wolfe and Isert explain that if community members are able to assist with some maintenance or are able to come to bingo, their support will be truly valuable and will help to ensure the Centre Chevaliers can stay open.
The board is working on a number of large fundraising events that will be held this year to help keep the Centre Chevaliers open, however; they are calling on community members to start participating in events (like bingo) to ensure their success.
Without an increase to bingo attendance and use of the hall, the board is concerned it will inevitably have to close its doors permanently.