Marty Forbes comes from a family of broadcasters including two brothers, Jerry Jr and Gord, and their father, the indomitable Jerry Forbes Sr who founded Santa’s Anonymous in Edmonton in 1954. Ten years later after working up the ladder from an on-air announcer for CFRN to production manager of CHED in its formative years, the patriarch eventually rose to the position of CHED’s General Manager, a position he held for 24 years. Like his father and two brothers, Marty has spent his career in broadcasting as a writer, on–air performer, Operations Manager, Program Director and VP/GM. He has just ‘semi retired’ from the radio business but remains actively consulting media across the country. For the 17 years before his ‘semi-retirement’, he managed the Edmonton Astral operations, The Bear – EZ Rock and Team 1260 Radio.
Not one to rest on his laurels, a drive he likely inherited from his father, in retirement Marty is a bi-weekly columnist for the Edmonton Sun and President of Radiowise. He is also on the fundraising committee for the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit, named in recognition of his father Jerry Forbes who exemplifies the idea of community spirit.
Marty and many other community leaders — fifteen or so of them sitting on steering, fundraising and other committees come from the radio and television stations in Edmonton. They imagined a community where Santas Anonymous and many other non-profit organizations could enjoy the benefits of having a stable home in a shared location. The Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit is the answer to their collective imaginations. The Centre will serve as a multi-tenant, non-profit facility promoting collaboration and innovation for many agencies to deliver their programs in an affordable, visible, safe environment. The Jerry Forbes Centre promises to be a destination for volunteers, and a legacy for Edmonton.
Everything begins with an idea and in May 2008, the Board of Directors of Santas Anonymous had an idea to explore the feasibility of solving their chronic warehouse problem once and for all. In exploring solutions to their own office/warehouse space dilemma, they learned that many other non-profit organizations were in similar untenable situations. Permanent homes for their non-profit agencies were in doubt with rising rents and limited options. The board members discovered many non profit organizations in Edmonton were keenly interested in a shared and flexible leasing model including the Christmas Bureau and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.
In partnership with other non-profits and armed with the Non-profit Spaces Survey completed by the City of Edmonton Community Services department, they concluded that not only was it time to solve their own requirements for a permanent and secure home, a building such as the Jerry Forbes Centre for Community Spirit could solve the needs of many other nonprofit organizations that, like them, expand and contract throughout the year. This operational challenge requires staff and volunteers to expend significant energy in locating, moving and setup logistics, rather than focusing on the core work of running their organizations.
The product of their collective imaginations — the Jerry Forbes Centre — is designed to accommodate many long-term, non-profit tenants who require office space year round, along with stable long-term leases with predictable operating costs and no rent. It will also allow for flexible, short-term leases and event space in the shared areas and warehouse.
The building plans call for:
- 70,000 sf. total
- 30,000 sf. total warehouse space
- 40,000 sf. total office space
- 10,000 sf. in a two-storey office space,
- Additional 30,000 sf. office space above thewarehouse
- Central atrium and reception area
- Full accessibility
- Ample washroom facilities
- Shared meeting space and lunch room
- Fully wired for internet
- State of the art, “green” building
To date, the Centre has completed a feasibility study, needs assessment and a detailed business plan. From this they crafted an impressive business case which has garnered support from the City of Edmonton with a commitment for land and funding to the total value of $5.25M in May 2010. In May 2011, Honourable Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture & Community Spirit announced the Government of Alberta’s initial pledge to the Jerry Forbes Centre of $3 Million through the Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP). In addition $126,472 has been contributed to the Jerry Forbes Centre through the Government of Alberta Community Enhancement Program & Community Initiatives Program. They are hopeful of a significant contribution of funding from the Federal Government to be confirmed within the year. If the rest of their fundraising efforts prove as successful, they are hoping to break ground for the Centre in the spring of 2012 and to open it the following summer.
In addition to seeking government funding for the Centre, they are actively fundraising in a number of other ways through such things as appealing to service clubs in Edmonton and by holding special fundraising events.
Their next special event is a Mardi Gras Dinner and Auction set for Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the Crown Plaza Chateau Lacombe. Cocktails at 5:30pm, dinner at 6:45pm, dancing at 9:00pm with silent and live auctions running throughout. Tickets are $125 per person and can be purchased by calling Elizabeth at 780-440-6362. See more information on the gala.
What are Marty’s thoughts on this community initiative? In a recent phone call he said,
I have enormous respect for Edmontonians. It is a testament to the collective energy of a committed group of individuals who can start such an initiative in a basement and grow it into a civic centre for the benefit of generations to come.
Marty’s commitment to outstanding community service was obviously bred in the bone.