EvenStart gets a boost from Centron for new digs
Centron Group of Companies has become one of the leading development and construction groups in Western Canada since it was founded in 1984 by CEO Bob Harris. It’s also one of the good city firms committed to giving back to the community by working closely with not-forprofit organizations.
Harris and three friends donated $5.6 million to kickstart a new home for Accessible Housing and through its Centron Cares Program has assisted many other organizations, including Foothills Academy and the Development Disabilities Resource Centre. It also built the Lions Village seniors facility.
It recently replaced a building on Hull Services’ southwest campus and has embarked on a new project to help provide a new building for EvenStart in partnership with the Heartland Agency. The building, designed by NORR Architects Engineers Planners, will be constructed on donated land in Mayland Heights on 18th Street N.E.
Contributing contractors who helped make the project possible include consulting engineering companies Level, Stebnicki, Brickhouse and ISL.
The two-storey building will replace the current location at Currie Barracks.
It’s a dream come true for Ilona Boyce, who founded Heartland Agency 20 years ago.
She spent many years as regional director of daycare for southern Alberta but wanted to start a program of her own that would have fewer restrictions than those under government operation.
With a little seed money from the government, a van donated by her late husband, and a lot of courage, she launched Heartland Agency and began delivering a modest program called EvenStart from the basement of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church.
Her clients, many of whom are high-risk children, are suffering differing kinds of trauma causing speech impediments and anxiety. With their learning compromised and little ability to focus, they suffer forms of stress and behavioural problems.
At the Currie Barracks facility and a second location in Monterey Park, EvenStart programs care for 150 children aged three to five who are coached by a staff of 64 trained professionals who prepare them for entry into the regular school system.
Boyce said the EvenStart Foundation has saved every year and with the assistance of Centron Group and its friends, help from the business community and from United Way, funding is on hand to begin construction.
The building has been designed from the ground-up through the eyes of a child.
Each of the classrooms will have its own washroom, water and play areas.
It will include a sensory room where a child can take timeout if necessary, breakout rooms, an occupational therapy room and an art centre in the lower level.
Occupancy of the new centre is planned for December of this year when staff — with the help of Robin Aitken of Equa Design — will craft the interiors.
Another Boyce dream is to secure a donation that will cover the cost of interior play apparatus she has seen in use at a children’s museum in Mexico.
A two-storey magical climbing tree would not only provide a lot of fun but would help children with their co-ordination.
Boyce has set aside space and a gifted artist who lives in the Drop In Centre — Boyce is a former DI board chair — has designed scarves that are being sold to start the funding ball rolling.
NEWS AND NOTES
When wine educator Linda Garson told me four years a ago she was to become editor-inchief of a new food and beverage magazine called Culinaire, I cautioned her that she was embarking on a tough proposition.
But she became passionately involved — and so energetically proud.
Always a good read, Culinaire debuts in Edmonton this month.