BOC-Golf-2015While periodic rain throughout the day may have made the greens a bit slower, CREECO’s annual golf classic bested its goal in a benefit for Willie’s Place, the day centre for the homeless in Val-d’Or.

According to CREECO President Jack Blacksmith, Willie’s Place was a timely choice as this year’s beneficiary since the new organization has been struggling in recent months, having to temporarily close down for financial reasons.

“Our goal was to raise over $30,000, but we did better than expected and were able to raise $43,000,” said Blacksmith. “We are very happy with this. It’s just amazing! Helping Willie’s Place was very well received as we had invited all of Willie Hester’s family.”

Opened just before Christmas, the centre is a collaborative effort between various health and social service organizations in Val-d’Or, including the Native Friendship Centre, to provide the city’s homeless with a warm and welcoming venue during the day as an alternative to the streets. Many of the homeless individuals who frequent the facility are Aboriginal.

The former bar in the Chateau Louis Hotel was named for Willie Hester, a Cree who recently passed away after spending many years on the streets of Val-d’Or, where he was seen as a leader among the homeless.

“Willie’s Place had to shut down for a while earlier this year because of a lack of funds. But now they have reopened and they are going to do a lot of good things. I really wish them all the best,” Blacksmith added.

Blacksmith said that out of the 144 available playing spots in the tournament, 125 golfers participated in the event, which was held at Val-d’Or’s Club de Golf le Belvedere June 18.

BOC-Golf-2015-2The evening’s entertainment featured Kitigan Zibi’s Algonquin Avenue Band. Blacksmith said the band was a hit, playing everything from rock to country and getting the crowd moving.

Raising money for worthy organizations, like Willie’s Place, is a big part of CREECO’s annual tournament as a way to help those in need.

“Whenever CREECO does a tournament, we look at where we can put the money raised. If anyone else has any suggestions about where we can put that money, we are open to hearing from them. Last year we helped special-needs children, and for next year we want pick another organization,” said Blacksmith.

Blacksmith said that anyone who has a suggestion for a beneficiary for next year’s event should just pick up the phone and give him a call.