The figures are not finalized yet but the Let’s Go Gatsby fundraiser for Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake is expected to top $28,000, says event co-ordinator Sally Nairn.
She says 200 people attended the gala and when the final figures come in from TRU Kamloops she expects the fundraiser will have raised even more than her estimate.
“It amazes me how generous the people in Williams Lake are,” Nairn says. “They give and give and give, especially when our children are involved.
“The young people of Williams Lake are the future of Williams Lake.”
TRU Grit foundation chair Brian Garland is equally thrilled with the fundraiser.
“I have great gratitude for the volunteers and the community for supporting the gala and for the generosity of the local businesses for their donations to the live and silent auctions,” Garland says. “Sally Nairn and her committee did a fabulous job of organizing the gala this year.”
All of the funds raised at the $120-a-plate dinner, dance and auction will go toward providing scholarships for students who attend university at TRU’s Williams Lake campus.
TRU Grit is a group of about 20 local business people who came together three years ago to work on ways to build enrolment at TRU in Williams Lake.
They recognized that having a thriving university in the community with lots of students would go a long way toward providing economic stability for the community, Garland says.
For the past three years TRU Grit’s main fundraiser of the year has been the annual gala but Garland says the group is also busy on many fronts raising funds for scholarships and helping to support the university in other ways.
Last year he says TRU Grit gave out $50,000 in scholarships to 22 students attending TRU in Williams Lake. The smallest scholarship was $2,000 and the largest was $5,000.
“Many of the scholarship recipients might have gone to other schools or may not have been able to afford school at all,” Garland says.
Nairn adds: “There are 22 students attending TRU Williams Lake who are benefitting from scholarships and bursaries that are a direct result of the first two galas. We will be able to help another 14 students at least, from this year’s event.”
TRU’s Williams Lake campus manager Dr. Ray Sanders is equally thrilled with the TRU Grit’s efforts to support the university.
“Private support for the university is extremely important. Funding for bursaries and scholarships makes a difference in whether or not some can attend university,” Sanders says. “We are grateful to TRU Grit and the larger community.”
Garland says the TRU Grit’s immediate goal is to build up the student population by awarding scholarships that help students to start their higher education in Williams Lake where costs are more affordable than larger centres and encourage other students to pursue higher education who might not have thought they could.
He says TRU Grit also supports the university’s efforts to develop the international student population at the university. One of the things international students currently need is adequate housing where they can be together, Garland says.
He says the TRU Grit group is also actively working with the university to promote programs that will raise the profile of the local campus and bring more students to the community including international students.
He says the Kamloops campus has 1,400 international students and TRU Grit would like to see more international students attending TRU in Williams Lake.
Sanders says the university will be welcoming 10 new international students to Williams Lake in September.
“We have a cohort of at least 10 international students for September in the Practical Nursing program,” Sanders says. “We are recruiting worldwide for more. TRU World is planning to send more to Williams Lake.”
Garland says that one of the challenges for the international students is finding adequate housing. He says the international students would prefer to live together in a housing complex so TRU Grit is also helping to explore options to make that happen.
Nairn says it was an honour and privilege to chair the third annual Williams Lake TRU Grit gala. “Now we need to think of a theme that will be even better than “Let’s Go Gatsby!”