CRESCENT BEACH — It was a party at the "Camp A" longhouse over the weekend - an "extreme makeover" party that lasted 72 hours and involved more than 100 volunteers and countless coats of paint.
"We're staining shelves and tables, we've painted the hallway, we've been sanding and doing a little bit of cleanup," attendee Cherie Cahoon said over the music blasting in the background.
Cahoon works with the South Surrey office of Investors Group, the major backer of the project. When she spoke with the Now on Sunday around noon, she had been on the site with her daughter and mother since 8 a.m. and was going to stay until 5 p.m. They weren't the only ones who brought family along to get in on the renovation action, from Friday to Sunday.
Outside, on the lawn, a woman and her young son were putting sandpaper to wooden chairs. Inside, adults young and old were sawing and hammering away at drywall while others took up paintbrushes - white for the walls and red for the door frames. There was new flooring and new bathrooms, and all of the electrical and plumbing work had been done and paid for by local companies in advance of the weekend.
"It's kind of neat - you start one project until you're finished and help out with different things, just to give back to the community. It's been fun, too," Cahoon said.
Penny Bradley, executive director of Alexandra Neighbourhood House, said the amount of community support has been "heartwarming" for the notfor-profit organization.
"The contributions have been way beyond what we would have ever imagined," Bradley said. "Volunteers are doing work that would've cost us thousands and thousands of dollars. So essentially we're getting a completely revitalized building probably for about $50,000, and the rest is inkind contributions, around $250,000 when all is said and done."
Steps away from Crescent Beach, Camp Alexandra is a unique site. The longhouse, considered the main building, has been around since 1979 and was in dire need of upgrades before the announcement of the renovation in May.
"It was an old, tired building," Bradley said. "It's brighter now, much more eco-friendly, and it just feels more welcoming in the way that it was when it was new. So this is just giving it more life."
Bradley said she'd love to see an increase in weekend and summer rentals of the facility, and also throughout the winter.
After the weekend of work, the interior of the longhouse will be finished and ready for appliances and furniture to be brought in, and the building will be usable at the end of the month. Renovations to the exterior will have to wait until the spring, due to weather. Visit www.alexhouse.net to learn more about the site.
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