Unique 3:1 challenge raises ‘incredible’ $1.28M for Lighthouse
Jun 17, 2021 7:30 AM By: Tyler Evans | Orillia Matters
‘I have a very close feeling to Orillia and this was a wonderful opportunity for me to give back to the home that I grew up in and value so much,’ says James Burton.
The numbers are in and they are staggering.
The James A. Burton and Family Foundation’s 3:1 challenge raised more than $1.28 million for the new Lighthouse shelter and community hub on Queen Street.
To help the Building Hope Campaign complete the remaining $500,000 of its $14.5-million fundraising goal, the challenge was issued by Foundation president Jim Burton, who was born and raised in Orillia.
For each $1 donated to the campaign during a designated time this spring, Jim Burton’s foundation agreed to donate $3. Over $300,000 was raised by Orillia and area contributors during the challenge, leading to a donation of over $900,000 from the foundation.
“It’s pretty incredible when you look at the numbers, and I think the even bigger factor is seeing the kind, caring, compassionate, empathetic person and his family foundation behind all of this,” said Lynn Thomas, development and communications manager with the Lighthouse.
“He has put his money where his mouth is in the truest sense of the word.”
The funds raised through the 3:1 challenge will be used to complete the Lighthouse’s initial capital campaign and will help assist with the long-term sustainability of the new community hub’s operations and services, she explained.
“These funds will enhance operations and solidify our reach for our services and deliver care for the participants who come through our doors for years to come,” Thomas said.
“These funds will help us accomplish our plans and our new vision of providing a community where everyone has hope, a home, and a future.”
Burton says he was happy to make a sizeable donation to the Lighthouse because of the “tremendous need” to help those experiencing homelessness.
“Whether it’s young people who are on the street because of addictions, folks who have lost their job, marriage, or whether they are a single mom on the street, we know that the reality is significant in terms of need,” Burton said.
While Burton could have supported any homeless shelter in the nation, he chose the Lighthouse because of how he values the new facility.
“It was very ambitious of the Building Hope project to raise $14.5 million and do something more than just being a soup kitchen, but instead a pathway,” he explained.
“I see the new Lighthouse as the beginning of a path from homelessness to hope. It’s a path that says, ‘we will help you. Let me take your hand, and we will help you get to a better place.’”
Burton says it was also important for him to contribute to making the place where he grew up a safe community for all.
“I loved Orillia, there were a lot of special people there who helped me as a young person, who mentored me,” the Niagara-on-the-Lake resident said.
“I have a very close feeling to Orillia and this was a wonderful opportunity for me to give back to the home that I grew up in and value so much.”
Burton’s foundation also pledged an additional $1 million donation earlier in the campaign to name the Youth Wing of the Lighthouse Community Services after his son, Jeffrey Burton, who passed away nine years ago from an accidental drug overdose.
“I’m very familiar with the challenges that are faced today by families of all walks of life who are dealing with mental illness, addictions, and these types of issues,” Burton said.
“It’s become very personal for my family to have a place to celebrate and honour Jeffrey as part of our giving.”
Burton wants to thank the residents of Orillia and area who contributed to the 3:1 challenge over the past few months.
“The immediate response from the citizens of Orillia for the 3:1 campaign was just so affirming,” he said.
While the funds raised through the 3:1 challenge are substantial, Thomas reminds the community that the Lighthouse will need ongoing monthly funds.
“We are going from running a broken-down, over 100-year-old house to a 30,000-square-foot new facility. There is going to be more cost to run it, and we have about five times the amount of people we are going to be serving than we did before,” she said.
“We still need the support of the community, especially through volunteerism and monthly donorship.”