© Geraldine Brophy
Ben Fitzgerald is the executive director of the WestRock Community Centre.
When Ben Fitzgerald read in The Western Star that Easter Seals had shut its Corner Brook office and programming for the young people it served had ended, the executive director of the WestRock Community Centre felt disturbed.
“I think that those kids whether it’s through Dunfield Park, or WestRock or the city, someone has to include them. They’re kids. They matter,” he said.
“And if nobody is doing that, I’ll stick my neck out there.”
So Fitzgerald posted an offer of help in the comments section on TheWesternStar.com.
“I would love to help!,” he said in his comment and provided a phone number to reach him at. “ I have some gym space, rock climbing wall and other resources that could possibly help a day a week to start (Sundays possibly)!”
When contacted by The Western Star about that offer, Fitzgerald said “I put the offer out and ultimately it would be up to someone there, a concerned parent or and advocate, somebody to get a hold of me.”
Fitzgerald said he’s open to working with any parent in any facet who has a child who’s been disadvantaged or not included. “And that’s what we do, whether they live in social housing or not really doesn’t matter to me.”
Fitzgerald’s mandate is to work with people in social housing and he doesn’t have the time to be the advocate, but said he’s willing to work with anyone who wants to be that advocate.
“We could see a partnership being formed with a group that was definitely interested in helping themselves,” he said.
“If Easter Seals Newfoundland wants to see these kids benefit from all it is they are, then they have no more excuses because I’ve put it out there that we’re willing to help.”
In terms of what could be offered at WestRock, Fitzgerald said “number one, I guess, the first and foremost thing we offer is an inclusion, a sense of belonging to something.”
Outside that the centre could offer access to computers, a mini gymnasium and a rock climbing wall.
“Based on the fact that the majority of people don’t come up here to take advantage of programming anyway, I don’t think it would be hard to probably to work with say Easter Seals or Special Olympics one day a week to give those kids an opportunity.”
Fitzgerald said all he needs to make it happen is to hear from someone, but he hasn’t yet.
“My offer is out there, that’s all.”