The Geraldine District Foundation (GDF), a new charitable trust for Geraldine currently being formed at the instigation of the Geraldine Licensing Trust, will “work for the good of the community” says Chair James Wallace who is excited about what he describes as a “completely new and important development” for Geraldine.
Mr Wallace says that the Geraldine District Foundation (GDF) will be the first organisation of its kind in Geraldine, with its sole aim to initiate projects for the benefit of the entire community. “There are other models around the country, such as Advance Ashburton, that offer the opportunity for local people to gift or bequeath money to be used for projects that create good in community. There has long been discussion about the need to have the same sort of organisation in Geraldine, so it is very satisfying to see it finally getting off the ground.”
Mr Wallace (MNZM), a local retired lawyer, leads a small but impressively credentialled group of locals committed to advancing the interests of the Geraldine community through various projects.
He is joined by Orari Estate owner and long-serving former Community Board member and Chair Rosie Morten as well as local businessman and current Chair of the Geraldine Community Board, Wayne O’Donnell. The Foundation’s patron is John Acland Senior (CNZM) who formerly farmed at Mt Peel Station and has served on many national and local bodies, including as Chair of Waihi Lodge.
The group is currently working through the process to become a registered charity and will then be actively seeking benefactors and funds for their first project which is to be a community owned medical facility.
Mrs Morten notes that this idea has been around for more than a decade and is thrilled that the GDF will finally make it happen.
The group has already purchased the former Geraldine Town and Country Club building on the corner of Talbot and Maslin Streets, with the support of the Geraldine Licensing Trust and the Town and Country Club itself. “We cannot thank the Licensing Trust enough for choosing to financially support our first project while the building’s former owner, the Town and Country Club, has also been very generous in offering extremely favourable terms.”
Mr Wallace says that the project will be a true community-owned asset, with the building owned by the Geraldine District Foundation and negotiations currently underway with the Geraldine Endowment Fund (administered by the Timaru District Council on behalf of the community) to purchase the land.
The plan will be for the Foundation to work with a specialist project manager to undertake a total refit of the building to create a fit-for-purpose state-of-the-art community based medical centre owned by the community. “The building is incredibly solid, with an earthquake rating that currently exceeds 80%, however there is much to be done to turn the 600m2 building into a modern community based medical facility which we hope will be the pride of Geraldine. It is our aim to achieve the gold standard in medical facilities and services for our residents,” says Mrs Morten.
Mr O’Donnell states that the combination of size and structural soundness of the building plus the ample parking made it the ideal site for a new centre. Once complete, the actual operation of the community medical centre would work under a management model yet to be decided but would include a range of practitioners from doctors, dentists, pharmacy and physio right through to other medical and wellness practitioners operating out-reach clinics on site.
Mr O’Donnell describes it as a “one-stop shop” for medical care. “Our residents deserve the very best and this facility will take our community well into the future, ensuring that we have the medical services we need and deserve available in and for our community.”
The GDF have already received expressions of interest from practitioners and are confident that the centre will offer a full range of medical services.
Mr Wallace says the involvement of the Geraldine Licensing Trust, the Town and Country Club and the support of the Geraldine Community Board and Timaru District Council has seen the first project of the GDF swing smoothly into action.
With that building secured the focus now for the Foundation will be to seek funds from those in the community keen to contribute to this project or to the Foundation’s future projects.
“This is just the beginning” smiles Mr Wallace. If you would like to get in touch to learn more about the Foundation’s aims or to donate, please contact 03 692 2894.