It took a local hero less than two weeks to raise more than $8,000 to install a memorial bench at Penticton’s waterfront to honour those who have lost their lives to overdose.
Gord Portman, who experienced addiction and homelessness for several years, made an emotional pitch to council at the beginning of June, outlining his dream for Penticton to have a memorial bench for people to go to and remember victims of the opioid crisis.
And with help from Counc. James Miller, Portman’s dream became a reality on Tuesday, June 21.
Portman, who saved two lives in a 2020 Penticton house fire, presented an $8,030 cheque to Mayor John Vassilaki at the end of the regular council meeting.
Portman, who recently celebrated being clean for two years, initially set a fundraising goal of $7,500. After a $3,000 boost from council on June 7 to install and pay for the concrete base followed by overwhelming community support shortly after, that goal was quickly reached.
Any money that exceeds $7,500 will go towards additional landscaping near the bench, Miller said on Tuesday.
The bench will be located at Marina Way Park, with a projected opening of September.
Portman, who knows 104 people who have died from opioid overdoses including his bestfriend, thanked all the donors for their support over the last two weeks.
Miller added that people from as far away as Kelowna donated to the cause.
“Gord, thanks for again and again being an inspiration to all of us,” Miller said to conclude council’s meeting. “If you can do it, then we all can…this is a wonderful project.”
Any late donations can be made by contacting Miller at 250-487-8882 or Portman at 250-486-0494.