It was a perfect mash-up of business, not-for-profits and downtown revitalization.
When the Memory Den VR Lounge held its grand opening in its new location in Hodgson Mall, owner Bryton Kaufman donated the proceeds — just over $1,000 — to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Williams Lake.
“This is what community collaboration looks like and how it translates into reality,” said BBBS executive director Melissa Newberry.
Kaufman is a big brother with the organization, mentoring a boy in the community, but he’s also giving back through his business.
It’s collaborations like this Newberry hopes to see throughout the community, and something that Downtown Williams Lake executive director Stefanie Hendrickson said is key to downtown revitalization.
“Community collaboration is building relationships — not just with businesses but non profits,” said Hendrickson.
“It takes a community to create downtown revitalization. With many people doing so many things in the community, the more you can do together, the bigger impact you can have.”
Kaufman said he thinks it’s important to give back.
“I’ve been a big brother for a little over a year now and I know people who work at Big Brothers Big Sisters and I know it’s important for youth in the community.
“The business I run has a focus on youth so the health of youth in Williams Lake is important to me. I see lots of youth in Williams Lake on a regular basis and they are my friends, so I try to help them out.”
“We have lots of downtown businesses that are really great right now, lots of businesses opening up and lots of success with our seeding start program collaboration with the City of Williams Lake, Thompson Rivers University, the Chamber and Community Futures.
“That was great, we saw a lot of new business downtown and we see a trend towards this new sense of community downtown,” said Hendrickson.
Community connection is important, said Newberry, as well as celebrating new business and the intersections between business, non-profits and services.
“The first benefit is to our little brother,” said Newberry.
“But to give that extra bit back to the community is wonderful. Big brother and little brother relationships last forever.
“We would like to encourage other people and to foster similar relationships.”