It was almost one year ago when Stephen Sander, the former high school teacher turned real estate mogul, reached out to Bridgewater and expressed his desire to do something remarkable for the community that gave him his start in Canada.
Today, it was revealed, he is in fact giving back to the greater Bridgewater community in multiple ways.
“Bridgewater is where my Canadian journey began, and it will always hold a special place in my heart as my Canadian home town,” Mr. Sander explained. “I would not have been able to go on to build such a successful business or have such a wonderful family without the generosity of this community. They gave me a new start after so many hardships and for this I will be forever grateful.”
Mr. Sander, through his business, Hollyburn Properties Limited, has committed $1 million to the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore for the creation of a Minimally Invasive Surgical (MIS) Suite at South Shore Regional Hospital and $200,000 to the Bridgewater Elementary School playground project.
Work on the playground will begin once the school year ends, while renovation of existing operating room space and conversion into a MIS Suite will begin later this fall.
The creation of a Minimally Invasive Surgical Suite has been a priority at South Shore Regional Hospital for a long time. MIS is now standard in operating rooms, using laparoscopic technology for its procedures. This equipment completes the surgery through a few small incisions rather than one large opening, resulting in less pain, faster recovery and shorter hospital stays for patients.
Arleen Stevens, Executive Director of the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore, is amazed by the generosity of Mr. Sander to help make the $1.4 million wish a reality.
“This is by far the largest initiative the Health Services Foundation has ever taken on, and to have Mr. Sander and his family give this project its final donation is wonderful,” she said.
“Since discussions began, it has always been clear that Mr. Sander wanted to give back to ensure Bridgewater, the town that has meant so much to him, keeps growing and thriving,” Stevens explained.
“This wonderful donation will do just that by increasing the quality of healthcare locally and ensuring we can retain and attract surgeons on the South Shore with the latest technology available. This project means so much to the residents of the South Shore and we can’t thank Mr. Sander enough for his extreme kindness and vision.”
Meanwhile, at Bridgewater Elementary School (BES), a Sander family gift of $200,000 will go directly toward the completion of Phase 1 of the Playground Project.
Travis Vaughn, of the Bridgewater Elementary School (BES) Playground Committee, advised that the donation will have an immediate positive impact on the health and well-being of BES students, and the local community, who use the playground space on a daily basis.
“The BES Playground Committee naturally linked the need for a playground and community park with Mr. Sander’s incredible story and gesture,” Mr. Vaughn said.
“The Playground Project will include natural-play features, an outdoor classroom, traditional play equipment, painted games, landscaping, and more,” he explained.
“The members of the BES Playground Committee are beyond grateful for this sizeable donation, and combined with the group’s other fundraising efforts, the challenge of providing a new facility and community park will be realized in much less time than originally anticipated.”
Bridgewater’s Mayor David Mitchell said that the two projects are important building blocks in helping to grow the town and ensure its people can live healthy and active lives – both today and for years to come.
“A year ago, when Mr. Sander, his daughter, Karen, and the Hollyburn organization reached out to the Bridgewater area, it quickly became clear that they wished to do something special for our area that would touch lives across generations,” recalled Mayor Mitchell.
“Through the whole process that brought us to today, they’ve been responsive and engaging, and really wanted to understand how best to positively impact the most lives in Bridgewater and the surrounding area. I think they’ve accomplished just that.”