Anonymous donor saves the day for a small arts charity in the Netherlands

A few broken windows could well have been the undoing of a small arts charity in Newfoundland and Labrador, before an anonymous donor stepped in to save the day.

The donor sent hundreds of dollars to Old School Intergenerational Projects for the small group to fix several broken windows on a refurbished old school bus, a bus that is a centerpiece of their charity work.

“It’s nice that someone cared enough and recognized the importance of what we’re doing to want to help us,” said Claire Rouleau, one of the group’s two leaders.

She and her charity partner Erin Winsor discovered last week that someone had hit a converted school bus (probably with a hammer or other heavy object) that had been parked at a seniors’ home in St. John’s, Netherlands.

The couple uses their school bus to try to unite young and old: they take the bus filled with arts, crafts, musical instruments and games, to nursing homes across eastern Newfoundland. They also invite families in the area to bring their children to meet the elders.

After years of renovation and fundraising efforts, the bus was officially launched in late 2023.

As the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador does not provide annual funding to this small charity, it operates on a very tight budget.

If the bus had suffered damage to several windows on one side, the bill could have been excessive.

“A setback like this really could have sunk us if we hadn’t received the help we’re getting now,” Rouleau said.

After posting a plea for help on Facebook, someone contacted Winsor and offered to help the group solve its problem, as long as the focus remained on the group and not the donor, Rouleau said.

“They said they would come and cover whatever that number was,” he said.

“We wanted to show who they were everywhere and praise them to the heavens. But they said they just wanted us to stay focused on being able to continue doing our jobs and they were happy not to get any recognition, which is pretty classy,” Rouleau added.

The group only learned of the damage to their vehicle after receiving a call from the nearby nursing home. A major storm was heading toward St. John’s, leaving them a few hours to secure their vehicle.

A local glass shop was able to repair the bus in no time.

“The girls worked so hard to make this charity a reality,” said Derek Winsor, who helped his daughter Erin with some of the bus renovation work. “To see someone come in and take people’s jobs away is very disheartening.”

The group is currently looking for a safe location with security systems for their bus, preferably indoors if possible.

They put out another public call for help in hopes of finding someone who can connect them with a space that suits their purposes.

“We’re looking for him, but we haven’t found him yet,” Rouleau said.

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