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gwen secterBy MYRON LOVE  The Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre multipurpose main room was packed on Wednesday, October 14, with members gathered to hear the good news that they have been waiting to hear for more than two years.

The popular north Winnipeg Jewish seniors centre is going to be able to stay where it is thanks to the generosity of a donor – who wishes to remain anonymous for now – who has made an offer to buy the building from the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Winnipeg section.
In her remarks, Gwen Secter President Karen Grant reported that an agreement has been reached between the prospective new owner and the NCJW with the sale to become official at the end of October. “Thanks to the generosity of this individual, we will be able to continue to offer programs for seniors in the community (as well as kosher food services for the community) for years to come,” Grant said.
Marilyn Regiec, the Centre’s executive director, credited the Gwen Secter’s lawyer, Richard Buchwald, for going “above and beyond” his duties in helping to put the deal together.
In her comments, Cindy Lazar, President, NCJWC, Winnipeg Section, noted that NCJW has been involved in supporting seniors since 1949 when it founded the Golden Age Club, the first seniors’ drop in centre in Canada. For many years, the seniors centre operated out of the NCJW Building on the corner of Pritchard and Salter.
In 1986, with the Jewish community having largely moved farther north (and south), NCJW purchased a former tire store at 1588 Main Street and converted it into their new seniors centre, which was renamed after the late Gwen Secter, a leader in National Council for many years. Through various fundraisers and government grants, the building was renovated and officially opened in May 1989.
For the next 20 years, Lazar pointed out, NCJW paid for all the operating costs for the seniors centre, primarily with funds generated by the NCJW’s thrift store in Fort Rouge. Due to a cutback in funding due to the store’s closure, a new lease was arranged with Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre assuming operating expenses and maintenance, but continuing to pay no rent.
“The lease was extended in 2012,” Lazar said, “giving the centre four years’ notice of NCJW’s intent to sell the building at the end of the extended lease. Winnipeg Section received temporary funding from the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg for its operations, based on the premise that it would be able to sell the building (as of May 31, 2016) and repay the loan.
“The sale of the building will ensure the future of the Centre, which we founded and supported. It will also enable us to meet our commitments and new challenges in the community.”
Lazar noted that NCJW programs, supported by dedicated volunteers, include promoting organ donation, genetic screening, human trafficking awareness, sponsoring citizenship court, Books for Kids, women’s health, and backpacks for kids, and enhancing addictions services in the community.
She reports that NCJW membership in our community is growing. “We have two new chapters starting up this year,” she reports. “Younger women are looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the community. NCJW provides that opportunity.”

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