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Save the Finlandia at nearly $5,000 by Friday afternoon, still 31 days left to reach $15K

THUNDER BAY -- With more than 30 days left, the Save the Finlandia campaign has nearly reached one-third of its $15,000 goal.
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Steve Jobbitt, one of the Save the Finlandia campaign organizers, says the Finnish Labour Temple is a valuable asset to the community. (Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY -- With more than 30 days left, the Save the Finlandia campaign has nearly reached one-third of its $15,000 goal.

“It speaks to the value people put on this place,” said Steve Jobbitt, one of the organizers of the crowdfunding campaign, which started on Monday, just days after the Finlandia Association announced they were in dire financial straits.

The Finnish Labour Temple on Bay Street is more than 100 years old, designated a national and provincial historical site. On Saturday, treasurer Kelly Saxburg told tbnewswatch.com the association was in danger of having to close its doors.

The association is $700,000 in debt.

The online campaign was started by Crystal DiGiuseppe, who asked the community to help raise $15,000 to just do something to help the Finlandia.

DiGiuseppe, a Lakehead University student, asked her professor Jobbitt for help with the campaign and after talking to the board it has been decided that if the campaign is successful, the $15,000 will be used to refurbish part of the upstairs auditorium to help bring low-cost productions to the hall and revitalize it as an affordable community auditorium.

“The problem is, as we understand it, is not just the debt the Finlandia has, but also we need to think of meaningful ways forward to sustain this building for the next 100 years,” said Jobbitt.

The Finlandia’s plight has been gaining international attention, with people organizing support in Finland.

“It’s just a valuable historical asset. It was built in 1910. The Hoito itself is one year older than the Republic of Finland,” Jobbitt said.

“It’s linked to the labour history of the city. It’s an icon in the city. We need places like this in a world that’s dominated by box stores and flashy event centres and I’m not saying anything against that, but we need stuff that’s local, that’s affordable, that’s part of the community.”