After 12 years in the making, the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit is now open in Edmonton.
It’s home to not only 630 CHED Santas Anonymous; but also a total of 18 charitable organizations. All the groups will share expenses on the 93,000-square-foot warehouse.
You couldn’t wipe the smile off the face of retired broadcast executive — and Jerry’s son — Marty Forbes.
“Talking about the impact of what Santas’ Anonymous had — now to think of something that started that small, within the basement of a radio station, to grow to this — is truly hard to describe.
“But I know with his love of the city, he would be just absolutely knocked out.”
Final renovations wrapped up earlier this year to set aside warehouse space, shared offices and open meeting areas.
“The executive directors get together once a month and we talk about how we can share resources and collaborate on grants and different things,” said Lana Nordlund, who over sees Santas Anonymous.
The working village of charitable organizations co-exist in the $12-million facility.
“Because we actually purchased the building outright, the only thing the charities have to pay for is their proportionate share of operating costs,” said Forbes Centre executive director, Max Scharfenberger.
“We have some organizations in here who are actually saving as much as 60 per cent of their operating costs if it’s rent and operating costs included because we’ve actually made the building exceptionally energy efficient.
“All that stuff adds up and if we can save money for the charities, they can put more of that money back into the community.”
The three founding non-profits are: 630 CHED Santas Anonymous, The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton and The Edmonton Folk Music Festival Society.
“The Folk Fest has actually consolidated all of their warehouse space here at the centre under a long-term lease,” Scharfenberger said. “And the other festival that’s come on board is Arts on the Ave. We still have some room in the warehouse space so if there’s other organizations out there looking for warehouse space, happy to have them give us a call.”
His vision is to see one of these in all four quadrants of the city, assisting other charities.
“It’s a dream that’s mine,” Scharfenberger said.
Forbes is there on a regular basis, giving back in his dad’s name, with another media outreach never dreamed about, even just a few years ago. Marty gives regular lessons on digital media, showing groups how to best get their identity out in the community through Facebook business sites, Instagram and Twitter.
“And when you walk through here and get hugs from the people, saying how happy they are to be here, it just rips my heart apart, I’ll be honest with you. It’s just amazing.”