Parrot refuge gets $55,000 grant

 Wendy Huntbatch has had to come up with some innovative ways to raise money — such as selling paintings by parrots — to keep the doors open at the parrot refuge. - News file photo
Wendy Huntbatch has had to come up with some innovative ways to raise money — such as selling paintings by parrots — to keep the doors open at the parrot refuge.
— image credit: News file photo

For quite some time now, a peek into the bank account at the World Parrot Refuge usually made Wendy Huntbatch’s eyes go wide — and not in a good way.

Deprived of their provincial gaming grant, the Coombs facility has been struggling just to keep their doors open, their birds fed and their electricity bill paid.

That all changed this week though, when Huntbatch, the owner of the parrot refuge, took a look at the bank balance. This time, her eyes also went wide, but in a very good way indeed.

“I was looking to see how much money I had in the bank account and it was like, Oh my god!” she said. “I was so excited.”

The cause for that excitement was $55,000 from a provincial gaming grant that appeared in the account Thursday.

“I applied for an educational grant, because we really are an educational facility,” she said. “I applied under that heading because there was nothing available under environment, which is where they put animal groups.”

Although Victoria’s purse strings have loosened for gaming grants lately, Huntbatch was unsure if her application would get a green light or if she would have to continue to struggle to pay the bills.

“In my stupor of chemotherapy, I did what I thought was a workable application and I guess it was,” she said.

The cash infusion, she said, will allow the refuge to continue operating, Huntbatch said, and while the facility still faces challenges, she now has some room in which to create some momentum and get back on track.

“I’ll use it for payroll,” she said. “We employ 17 people here and this will look after us for about three months, which is great.”

That’s not to say the refuge won’t need continued support from the community during that time, she said. Besides making payroll, there are some other significant costs that need to be taken care of.

“Our hydro bill alone was $2,800 this month,” she said.

Huntbatch said she is still selling parrot-generated art and has some other ideas to raise money — and more energy with which to carry them out.

“When you have some running space you can start to get some momentum going,” she said.

The parrot refuge houses about 800 birds, with 15 new additions already this year.


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