Centre forging legacy of kindness

From left, New Legacy Centre volunteers Lynda Chapel, Valerie Lynds, and Patsy Henry show off some of the formal dresses donated to outfit local students for prom for free. Photo by Adam Bramburger.

Adam Bramburger
Beaver Staff

For just over a year, the New Legacy Centre has been offering a sense of community to anyone who happens upon its doors in the heart of Tamworth’s business district.

Four days a week, the coffee and tea are on and people are encouraged to drop into the former 5 Corners storefront on the southeast corner of Concession and Bridge streets to take just what they need. Just inside the door, there’s a wall of books to be taken. Nestled further inside, there’s a well-stocked food bank and shelves of new and used clothing, all sorted by size.

“Everything is free here,” said co-ordinator Valerie Lynds.

Since April 2017, the presence of such a place has been a bit of a well-kept secret. Lynds estimates that about one person an hour has visited. This weekend, the volunteers are hoping that will change with the inaugural Prom Attire Event, Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

On Tuesday, Lynds and fellow volunteers Lynda Chapell, Patsy Henry, and Bob Bird were sorting through racks of formal dresses, suits, and accessories offered through the generosity of the community. As they were getting organized, the door flung open and a neighbouring businesswoman brought in four brand new dresses to donate, bringing the total available close to 60.

“We’re extending an invitation to the public at large to come see us,” Lynds said. “We like the though of relieving parents’ financial burden on extra items like prom dresses, but you don’t have to be down-and-out to visit. Anyone can come and if a girl sees the dress she likes, we’ll help her choose shoes and jewelry.”

The same goes for young men, added Henry, as she surveyed a rack of jackets and ties.

“We can outfit you head-to-toe,” Henry said, adding the only cost to young students and their families is an item for the food bank or a financial donation.

The community has not only come up with fashion in a wide variety of styles and colours, there is also an opportunity to win one of three custom designed prom dresses sewn by Geoffrey Murray at 1:30 p.m. a hair appointment at Inner Goddess at 2:30 p.m. and a nail appointment at Lil’ Country Nail Shop at 3:30 p.m.

Saturday’s event is just one way the New Legacy Centre is looking to raise awareness and funds to become self-sufficient. According to Lynds, it is a mission of Christ Church that extends beyond the church community to include a wide range of volunteers who just want to be of service.

“We were actually looking for and praying for a vision of what God wanted us to do in the community.  We had a food bank at the church, but the steps made it difficult for people with mobility problems,” she said. “We got a vision for a drop-in centre. The more we started looking at it, we felt it had to go in the centre of the village.”

Chapell added “that’s the real success of it.”

A generous landlord offered space at a discounted rate and the volunteers have never looked back in their efforts. Chapell said she and Henry recently retired, but found the “free time wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be” so they decided to help.

Lynd said she really wanted to do something for others.

“I have such a compassion for those who are less fortunate. I’ve been in their position and I know what it feels like,” she said. “I guess it’s just giving back. I just love people in general.”

The centre is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. For times, see www.newlegacycentre.ca.  In addition to the drop-in fellowship and the food, clothing, and book offerings, the centre holds a weekly Bible study Tuesday nights and a soup and biscuit luncheon on the third Friday of each month.

Lynd said she’s looking forward to more people learning about the non-profit and its activities.

“We’re just starting to get known. More people are stopping in now that word is getting out.”

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