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Lloyd Davies and Janet Armstrong.Handout

The organizers: Lloyd Davies and Janet Armstrong

The pitch: Donating up to $600,000

The cause: To build a daycare centre at Okanagan College

Lloyd Davies spent 15 years teaching at Okanagan College in Vernon, B.C., and he often saw students forced to skip classes because they couldn’t arrange child care.

“Every semester I was at the college, I’d have one or two students who would contact me and say, ‘I can’t make the class today’ or ‘I can’t make it for the lab, because my child-care situation just got bumped’ or something,” Mr. Davies recalled from his home in Vernon.

Whenever he pressed the college’s administrators about setting up a child-care centre on campus he was told “ ‘It’s coming, it’s coming. It’s on the plan.’ But it just never rose to the top priority of the plan.”

Mr. Davies, 67, retired from the college in 2013 but the need for child care stuck with him. A couple of years ago, the college announced plans to build a housing complex for 100 students. Around the same time the federal and provincial governments expanded programs to increase child-care spaces. “And so I thought, wow, this is a perfect chance to get something for a daycare integrated into the residence,” he said.

Mr. Davies and his wife, Janet Armstrong, contacted the college and offered to make a $500,000 donation toward the cost of adding child-care spaces to the residence. Within a few months the idea became a reality and a facility for 44 children has been included in the building’s design. Students will be given priority but the centre will also be open to college staff and the wider community.

The B.C. government has contributed $1.5-million toward construction, and Mr. Davies and Ms. Armstrong are helping raise an additional $750,000. To encourage community donations the couple has pledged to match every gift up to $100,000.

Construction is under way and the residence is expected to open next year, along with the Sunflower Childcare Centre. “It’s wonderful,” Mr. Davies said as he watched a webcam of the construction site. “I lobbied for this for years. And it’s great to see it actually growing out of the ground now.”

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