Being part of the community means a whole lot to the folks at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre.
Even more so when it comes to Penticton Regional Hospital.
Cherry Lane Shopping Centre has donated almost $40,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Medical Foundation’s campaign to provide the medical equipment for the current Penticton Regional Hospital expansion.
Judy Richards, general manager of Cherry Lane, said most of the funds stem from the shopping centre’s Photos with Santa during the Christmas season.
“We have the best Santa. He’s fantastic,” she said.
Over the past two years Cherry Lane has helped increase public awareness of the hospital expansion and the SOS Medical Foundation’s campaign.
“We’re community-minded and want to partner with the community,” Richards said.
Cherry Lane has become an unofficial community hub for the hospital expansion. Posters promoting the SOS Medical Foundation’s PRH equipment campaign adorn many of the walls. “Chat Heads” have also been posted, giving customers an opportunity to outline their own experiences at PRH.
“It’s a needed facility. We’re lucky because a lot of communities don’t have hospitals and people have to travel to get to hospital for treatment. So I think Penticton is really fortunate to have this growth to our hospital.”
Cherry Lane is also a strong supporter of many other charity organizations, allowing them to set up information booths or hold events inside the shopping centre. For example, the Penticton Hospital Auxiliary provides a gift wrapping service each December to benefit their cause.
Richards has been Cherry Lane’s general manager for the past four years, moving to Penticton from the Lower Mainland where she held similar positions at two other shopping centres.
She and her husband often visited Penticton in the late 1970s after riding across Canada on motorcycles from Halifax, shortly after Cherry Lane opened in 1975.
“We saw Cherry Lane from the beginning because we would shop here,” she said. “The food court was totally different and they had different anchor stores.”
Richards views her knowledge of Cherry Lane’s early years as a huge plus.
“I see Penticton as an absolute diamond and has lots of potential for positive growth,” she said.
Penticton is still large enough to offer such amenities as the hospital, the airport and significant retail operations, but not as hectic as Vancouver or even Kelowna.
“We felt Penticton gave us more personal identity – more of what we wanted in our life,” Richards said.
Cherry Lane has undergone several expansions and upgrades over the years and more are in the works.
An expansion to the food court is planned for 2018 with a possible major facelift to the main entrance also being considered. An environment-friendly landscaping upgrade, which began in 2016, is continuing.