Macaulay Tree House in Bracebridge is teaming up with a local artist to recognize donors through an art piece in their entryway.
Macaulay Tree House is a daycare centre that also offers before- and after-school programs, March Break and PA day programs, and summer camp. The non-profit organization is primarily funded by parent fees, but government funding and fundraising have played an important role in allowing the facility to expand. Community donors contributed to the creation of a daycare centre with a 1,200-square-foot community room, which opened in December 2020.
“We ended up building a community room that’s going to benefit a lot of different organizations,” said Executive Director Leesa Horsfield. “A lot of people don’t know about the community room yet because of COVID [since] we’re a daycare and we couldn’t have people inside the building. This is kind of the start of making the community aware that we have this room for them to use.”
To recognize the people that made the expansion happen, the staff at Macaulay Tree House have had their donors’ names engraved on metal leaves. Those leaves will be incorporated into an art piece in the daycare’s lobby. The project is a way to mark the wonderful progress they’ve made, Horsfield said, while also recognizing the support that made it possible.
“We’ve really amped our service up in the last three or four years, and the building of the new centre would not have been possible without the Ontario Government and the District of Muskoka and the Town of Bracebridge,” she said. “They were very big parts of this whole project, so it’s nice to have a lot of community partners that we can count on.”
After putting a callout for artists on their Facebook page, Horsfield and her team came across Bracebridge artist Kimberly Rideout. They appreciated the Muskoka themes in her work as well as her vision for the display, so they decided to partner with her for the piece. As soon as Rideout heard about the project, she knew she wanted to be involved.
“I told them whatever their budget is, I’ll work with that and then do double as much for them,” she said.
Rideout recently donated murals to the Pines Long-Term Care Home in Bracebridge as well as Andy’s House in Port Carling. While both projects were deeply touching, she’s excited to work on something different. The piece at Macaulay Tree house even has some surprise elements that take it above and beyond a typical mural.
“The fact that it’s kids just makes it that much more fun,” Rideout said, adding that her last two pieces were intended to be more sophisticated and neutral while her next piece offers a chance for more playfulness. “Working on this other project where the kids are involved, it allows me to bring in a whimsical aspect that really appeals to the little ones and add some really fun elements to it.”
On top of enjoying the artistic process, Rideout has appreciated making connections along the way. She started talking with employees at the Bracebridge Home Depot while shopping for supplies, and after sharing details about the project, one of the managers offered to make a donation.
“She wrote off my whole cart there, so that was a little over $100 worth of supplies they just donated,” Rideout said. “She said, ‘Going forward, if you’re donating anything to the community, by all means reach out to me ahead of time and if there’s anything that we can do to help you then we’d love to be involved.’”
Rideout is planning to complete the display in just three days. She usually does all the work for her art pieces on site, but this time around she’ll be working on a few elements in advance. She and the team at Macaulay Tree House are planning to reveal the art piece on May 6, so she hopes it will honour their donors while also encouraging others to get involved in the community.
“When you inspire people to want to do good then that’s only a win-win for the whole world,” Rideout said. “Even if it’s one person at a time.”