John Van de Brooke has never met Key Pen Community Services Executive Director Cristi Watson. He doesn’t even live on the Key Peninsula any more.

But in January, he sent Watson an unexpected offer: For every person she could get to donate $100 to the KPCS building fund, he would donate $100 himself.

While he’s only heard about Watson from the local newspapers that he still subscribes to, he’s all too familiar with Watson’s fight to raise funds for the food bank. A former volunteer with the center for more than 12 years, including several years as board president, Van de Brooke used to do much the same: knock on doors, ask for donations, try to do a lot with little.

“I know what it’s like to raise money on the Key Peninsula,” Van de Brooke said in a telephone interview from Nevada, where he moved five years ago due to his late wife’s health.

“The center has a big soft spot in my heart. They do good work there,” he said. “There is a need out there and they are filling it.”

After reading about the center’s struggle to raise money for its building fund — which would allow for the expansion of its outgrown space — he sent Watson a check and a letter he hopes would help kick off a small campaign. “For everyone you can prod, cajole or influence to donate $100 between now and Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2005, I will match their donation,” he wrote. “I have many friends on the Key Peninsula and perhaps this will spur them to donate to your building fund.”

Part of the offer, he said, was a way to honor the memory of his wife, Diane, who passed away in November.

“I served on the KPCS board with John for several years. I always admired his dedication to those less fortunate but this just blew me away,” Hugh McMillan, a well-known KP resident and volunteer to many organizations, said after reading the letter.



If you’d like to help
John Van de Brooke said he is not
looking for donations from groups
taking up collections or organizations, but rather from individuals. For everyone who donates $100 by Feb.14 to the KPCS building fund, he will donate another $100. People can donate more if they wish, but he will only match $100 for each donor.
If you’d like to respond to the challenge and send in your donation, call KPCS at 884-4440.


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