Hundreds of people turned out for today’s official opening of the George Schmidt Centre in Abbotsford.
The 30 new units of supportive housing, located at 31250 King Rd., will help men at risk of homelessness due to mental health and/or addiction issues or other reasons. It will be managed and operated by the Kinghaven Peardonville House Society.
The centre is named after Schmidt, Kinghaven’s longest-serving board member and a man dedicated to serving the needs of others. He passed away in February of 2009 of pancreatic cancer.
Several members of the Schmidt family were on hand for the opening.
“We’re so glad that you are here and that you chose to be with us this morning to celebrate and honour our dad and the legacy that lives on, in part through this beautiful building,” said Rachel Young, Schmidt’s youngest daughter.
She told the crowd that her father was a man who “had the capacity to see past the surface and into the person. He truly believed in the goodness of others, whether present or potential.”
Gerry Palmer, board chair of the Kinghaven Peardonville House Society, said Schmidt was more than a board member – he was a volunteer who worked with clients.
“He cared and gave to a level of commitment that very few others involved in the organization have. And that is why we look to his involvement and we think it is a very fitting name to use for our new building,” said Palmer.
In order to create the new facility, the B.C. government arranged $6.3 million in long-term financing for the development in addition to providing annual operational funding. The City of Abbotsford provided the land, valued at approximately $270,000, and waived property taxes.
“The new George Schmidt Centre will provide those who live there with not just housing, but the stability and support they need to help rebuild their lives,” said Michael de Jong, Minister of Finance and MLA for Abbotsford West.
With the official opening complete, plans have already begun on a further expansion.
“We’re hoping and we’re working on phase two, the hope that we can replace some of these old buildings that were built 40 or 50 years ago, to put a new Kinghaven here that will establish Kinghaven for the next 50 years,” said Palmer.
He said they hope to hold another grand opening three or four years in the future.