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Transcona Memorial seeks to boost accessibility

Church plans massive renovation project

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Rev. Carol Fletcher, Rev. Jeff Cook, Bob Buchanan, and Colleen Tackaberry are shown by the current elevator at Transcona Memorial United Church.

PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON Enlarge Image

Rev. Carol Fletcher, Rev. Jeff Cook, Bob Buchanan, and Colleen Tackaberry are shown by the current elevator at Transcona Memorial United Church. Photo Store

Transcona Memorial United Church needs a little help to continue its ability to help.

The church, located at 209 Yale Ave. W., is entering the final stage of its campaign to renovate the church in order to make it more accessible. The current building was built in 1953.
Through donations and partnerships with the three levels of government, the church has raised approximately $750,000 of the $1.25-million price tag associated with installing a brand-new elevator and making washrooms accessible to all. Rev. Carol Fletcher hopes funding is in place to begin construction in 2015.

The bathrooms in the basement are not accessible to those in wheelchairs, as users might climb a short staircase to access them.

In addition to being a place of worship, the church is also a hub of activity throughout the week, hosting numerous Transcona Council for Seniors programs, including a meal program three times per week. The meal program is designed to help seniors break bread with others in the area to help facilitate a sense of community, but resource co-ordinator Colleen Tackaberry recalled an occasion where one attendee’s wheelchair couldn’t fit in the elevator.

"We could not get her in, no matter what we did," Tackaberry said. "This lovely lady, who had made a great effort to get here, ate dinner in the lobby with me at a card table.

"That was very disheartening because one of the goals of our program is to break down isolation for seniors. It had just intensified — that feeling of being different, of being isolated, of not being able to do what other people can do."

The Transcona Food Bank also operates out of the church, and chairman Bob Buchanan said the number of users has been up in the first three openings of 2014. The bank usually helps approximately 70 families, but has recently been averaging around 90.

"We’re going full tilt, and it’s embarrassing when you’ve got a mother with a stroller and they’re not going to be able to get the stroller down the stairs, period, unless it’s hauled down," Buchanan said.

Buchanan added those using the food bank are encouraged to use reusable carts instead of plastic bags in an effort to be more environmentally friendly, but it’s hard to lug the cart up and down the stairs.

"We haven’t really moved into the 21st century when you consider all of the events and community-oriented things that happen in this space," he said.

Fletcher noted both organizations operate rent-free in the building. While both offer honorariums, they don’t cover the costs, but Fletcher said the church understands its role in providing the space.

"We’re happy to be that partner," Fletcher said. "Need is need, and the community needs public space where programs can happen.

"If we wanted our facility to be pristine for a very long time, we wouldn’t be community partners with anyone."

Anyone looking to make a contribution can write a cheque with "Building fund" in the note line. One-time donations and regular pledges are both accepted.

Those looking for more information can visit www.tmuc.ca or calling 204-222-1331.

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