The Potato House Community Sustainability Project is putting out a call for help to the community of Williams Lake to help pay off the remainder of their mortgage.
Over the last decade its been in operation, the Potato House has quickly become a pillar of the Williams Lake community in more ways than one. As one of the lakecity’s oldest structures, it has both historic and cultural value while ecologically its composting work and community garden help make Williams Lake a greener and safer place, reducing bear encounters.
However, all this good work was only made possible thanks to the contribution of the Potato House’s silent funder, who contributed a substantial sum to purchase the building and the tireless work of its three unpaid employees. The fundraising events the Potato House frequently holds are not only fun for the community but critical to paying back the mortgage this silent partner granted them.
The time to pay the amount back in full is now fast approaching due to setbacks caused by the 2017 Wildfires and changes within the silent partner’s life. As such, the Potato House is asking the community to donate money to help back the remaining $56,000 they owe within the next two years, which will finally complete the purchase started over 10 years ago.
The Potato Houses’ treasurer Niki Cockwill hasn’t been with the Potato House as long as some, serving in the position for just over a year, but in that time she’s come to appreciate and love all the organization does for the community.
Cockwill said she became treasurer right at the time their silent partner informed them they had three years left to pay back the remaining money.
“So I have never seen us not doing everything we possibly can to get this huge amount of money paid off,” Cockwill said.
Originally, the Potato House was on a payment plan of $10,000 a year until the full amount, plus a negligible interest, was paid back in full. Cockwill said each year they’d been able to fundraise roughly that amount but the aforementioned disruption has thrown them off. While they were able to make their payment this year, with time running out Cockwill said they felt it was time to let the community know of their situation and call upon their help.
“Our silent funder obviously suffered financial hardship when we were unable to pay them the $10,000 payment during the fire season. That was big and that was big for everyone, it’s not just us, it’s them,” Cockwill said. “They are lovely people and we don’t want to be a burden and they honestly just can’t handle the burden anymore. It’s twofold, we want our mortgage paid off but more importantly, we want them to be able to have their financial freedom back.”
Assuming their usual fundraisers perform as expected and fires don’t shut the city down again, they’ll still be $30,000 short when the time to pay arrives. Despite the daunting prospect of raising that much extra money, Cockwill said she’s confident the community, who have already been hugely supportive of the Potato House, will still up and give them the help they need.
The ways people can support the Potato House are as diverse and sustainable as the programs they support and offer. At the Williams Lake Return-It Depot the Potato House has an open account any can donate the proceeds from their bottles to or by donating money through the Williams Lake Credit Union, who will give any received funds from the Station House.
Freshly started for this emergency is a GoFundMe titled Save the Potato House, started by board member Jazmyn Lyons and Cockwill with a goal of $56,000. As of this publication, it’s already received over a thousand dollars from 15 different donors.
As an individual, she never though anything she could do would make a difference but since joining the Potato House she’s realized individual actions taken together can make the planet both sustainable and liveable in the future.
Read More: Food and yard waste wanted at Potato House
Around her own house Cockwill, like many in the Cariboo, had problems with bears and once had one drag her trash around her entire house. With two children, that wasn’t acceptable to she started storing her food waste in a separate bin and donating it to the Potato House’s compost heap. Now she’s rarely bothered by them.
This compost is then tended to diligently by Oliver Berger who ensures the community gets the best possible soil from their food waste. Cockwill said community members are then welcome to donate to the Potato House in exchange for this important garden ingredient for growing their own produce around their homes. Not only are they supporting the values of the Potatoe House then but they are also offering financial support that will go towards paying off the mortgage.
Once free of this obligation, Cockwill said they’ll be focusing the funds they raise towards enhancing the programs offered at the Potato House and bringing back more music nights. All they need to get there is community support.
“Some people are unaware of what the Potato House is doing for the community so one of the best ways to find out is to come to our AGM on September 19,” Cockwill said. “We’re going to talk about the projects we have planned, the idea’s we’re working on.”
She invites all members of the community to come out to this pirate-themed AGM, fittingly held on International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and encourages them to dress up and bring their kids. Entry is free for members and $5 for everyone else over the age of 12. Members ship to the Potato House is also $5, conveniently enough, Cockwill observed.