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After having a variety of fundraisers over the years, OVPA decided in 2012 to try something really different. Paula McMenamy, then OVPA Board President, and Marcia Biskupski, the Board Secretary at the time, thought about doing a “Buy a Brick with Your Name on it” Fundraiser.
“But after we researched that,” Marcia explains, “we found out that the front of the post office cement area/entrance was unstable. We realized that we couldn’t do the brick idea there. At that time, we would have had to hire someone to dig up that whole area and replace it with brick tiles. It would have been too expensive! A friend of mine, who lives in Leland and was very involved in fundraising and the community there, suggested that we try doing a commemorative bench with tiles. They had done a bench with tiles for a small park in Leland and it turned out great!”
So, the Tribute Bench project was born!
According to Marcia, “The Board agreed to create a Tribute Bench to be placed in front of the Omena Post Office…where it sits to this day!”
Paula McMenamy adds, “That bench is so very special to our family. I came up with the idea to have a place in Omena to honor or memorialize family members because we had lost our grandson, TJ, in 2009, and wanted a place to honor him. The Tribute Bench was a perfect way to do that.”
“Marcia and I had a wonderful experience bonding over the creation of the commemorative bench,” affirms Paula, “and I feel like we found a way to preserve the love that our families have for Omena.”
To let OVPA members know about this new form of fundraising, Marcia explains, “Information was sent out to the membership and it was really well received. In the meantime, Paula contacted a tile maker, Niki Elhart, who agreed to paint the tiles. Then we found A.J. Sutherland who built the bench, and Bob Pervis, a welder, who put it all this together. This process took a few months to complete. There was quite a lot of communication with the membership who wanted to have their names on the bench.”
Marcia adds, “We actually had more people who wanted their tile/name on the bench, than we had room for…we just ran out of space for more tiles!”
Each tile is different and represents a family who supported the fundraiser by buying and designing a tile.
The beautiful bench helped OVPA raise $14,000! Everyone was pleased with the way it turned out. Afterwards, OVPA had a big unveiling to celebrate the completion and installation of the Tribute Bench on the porch of the Omena Post Office.