Left: John Arnold of Dalron Homes to officially launch the Dalron Community Initiative Fund earlier this fall in this Sudbury Star file photo.
Ali Loney believes strongly in community involvement. The owner of Dance Evolution, at 129 Elm St., has supported the CNIB, the Sudbury Youth Orchestra and the Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer.
On Saturday, Loney became the first leaseholder to join the Dalron Community Initiative Fund. She says teaching community involvement to her students at the dance academy is part and parcel of her philosophy.
“I always tell my students to try to find as many ways to help the community as you can,” Loney said. “It’s something they learn here as competitive dancers, so as soon as this opportunity came up, I didn’t even have to think about it. We live here, this is our home and the students should know how important it is to contribute.”
Under the new fund, leaseholders can add five cents per square foot of space to their annual lease and Dalron will match the contribution. Loney’s new studio — the event also marked her grand opening — is about 6,000 square feet, which means she will pay an extra $300 per year. The company will match that amount, for a total contribution of $600 to the Sudbury Food Bank. Loney said the money is a small price to pay to help out her community.
Geoffrey Lougheed, past chair of the food bank’s board of directors, said Saturday the new Dalron initiative will help make Sudbury stronger for all of its residents.
“It’s going to result in our neighbours having enough to eat,” he told the crowd of about 40 people.
Dan Xilon, the food bank’s executive director, said the Community Initiative Fund represents an exciting opportunity.
“Think about what, potentially, this program launch could mean — if contractors in town were to spread this around, with all the lease space in Sudbury, how much money could be raised so simply to buy food for people who are hungry? It’s literally no effort on anyone’s part,” he noted.
Xilon knows how to stretch a dollar. The food bank can purchase $6 worth of food for every one dollar donated, thanks to his contacts and networks, and he said the organization purchases about $2 million worth of food annually (from donations totaling about $333,000).
More than 14,000 Sudburians every month access the services of the Sudbury Food Bank, which operates through more than 47 local food providers. The organization also supports more than 80 school feeding programs.
Participants Saturday celebrated the new studio with a buffet of cupcakes, topped with purple or green sprinkles and frosting, and quenched their thirst with deep purple and fluorescent-green punch.
John Arnold, commercial property manager at Dalron Homes, said the campaign is a family affair. His father, Ronald, who sits on the board of the Sudbury Food Bank, developed the framework for the Community Initiative Fund. Dalron also makes regular private contributions to the food bank, in addition to the new initiative.
Arnold intends to approach each of his tenants and with more than 800,000 square feet of leased space in Sudbury, the potential impact is significant.
“If we’re lucky enough to get 50% of people buying into this, that’s 400,000 square feet,” he said. ” There’s a potential $40,000 annually going to the food bank.”
The fund is already expanding. Assante Capital Management Ltd., which has offices on Falconbridge Road, will become the next tenant to participate.
“They jumped onto the program in the snap of a finger,” Arnold said. “They were right on it. They love it. They want to take the concept to North Bay.”
Soft-spoken and shy, like many eight-year-olds, Julia Arnold, a student at Dance Evolution, thinks her dad’s work with the Community Initiative Fund is pretty cool.
“Daddy’s famous,” she whispered following Saturday’s launch.