One of the first things Georgine Van de Mosselaer noticed when she arrived at Winnipeg’s Booth University College in 2017 was the bricks.

“They’re everywhere, and you learn to love them,” the college’s director of advancement smiles. “It’s part of the sense of permanence and stability of Booth UC. Other than Hetherington Chapel, the place where students, staff and faculty gather the most is Booth Bistro, and, again, two of the four sides are clad with bricks.”

The other thing that was immediately apparent to Van de Mosselaer was that there was no donor wall on the premises of Booth UC, recognizing those generous people—past, present and future—who have played a pivotal part in the growth of the institution.

Out of these two observations came the Bricks in the Bistro fundraising campaign.

A Great Need
“There’s never ever enough money for higher education. It’s as simple as that,” says Lt-Colonel Lloyd Hetherington, second president of the college. “Education is costly. Real estate, bricks, mortar and personnel cost a lot of money. But you’ve got to have them; that’s just being realistic.”

That need is compounded by student bursary funding and financial aid. And COVID-19 has only amplified that need.

Key Spot
“This is the first significant fundraising campaign that Booth UC has ever run,” says Dr. Donald Burke, formerly interim president.

“We wanted to do something to recognize donors that would be visual both on campus and virtually,” he continues. “And we wanted recognition levels that were affordable, acknowledging that not everyone can contribute in a major way, though every contribution is major to us.”

In her time as a fundraiser, Van de Mosselaer has seen commemorative floor tiles and staircases, but she also knew that it was not uncommon to use bricks in this fashion.

“There are a lot of bricks in the Waldron Building, where Booth Bistro is located,” she says. “I thought it would be nice to have a donor recognition there, because every student that comes through our doors, past and present, has spent time there. And being a fan of alliteration when it comes to campaigns, ‘Bricks in the Bistro’ came to mind.”

Dedicated to the Future
Instead of engraving the bricks, an acrylic panel will be suspended just in front of the walls. There will be three sizes of bricks depending on the donation level, and there is the opportunity to commemorate someone special with a dedication.

For instance, Lt-Colonel Hetherington’s wife had recently passed away when he received the fundraising mailing for Bricks in the Bistro.

What a beautiful way to build a memorial to her by buying a brick to place there in the college where we spent six years together, he thought.

Students, staff, teachers and visitors will see this and other inspirational messages when they sit and dine in Booth Bistro.

During the pandemic, the donor wall will be virtual and located on the Booth UC website. The physical donor wall will be unveiled at the college’s 40th anniversary celebration in 2022.

Building Booth UC
For Van de Mosselaer, the bricks are apropos.

“When you buy a brick, usually you’re building something—a patio, a garden wall—so by donating bricks to Booth Bistro, you’re helping to metaphorically build the institution.

“Building knowledge, building faith, building community. A brick builds many things. It builds students. It builds a better world.”

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