Woodstock Projects lend wild animals a helping hand

By Taylor McClure – Special to Brome County News

Woodstock Projects, a hobby woodworking shop in Brigham owned by Stéphanie Gourgue and Christopher Dunn, has organized a raffle to raise money in support of Le refuge Lobadanaki, centre de réhabilitation de la faune & sanctuaire in Saint-Étienne-de-Bolton. After connecting with the refuge last year when they took in an injured opossum, Gourgue and Dunn decided that they wanted to give back to the group, a refuge for wild animals in Quebec, to support their work. This year, people will have the chance to win a handmade bat house and the draw will be taking place on April 4, but Woodstock Projects is planning on doing other fundraisers in the future.

“We moved here five years ago and I was looking for a big property to get myself a woodworking shop,” said Gourgue. “Just before Covid hit, we had that built and then I started buying tools and stuff. Since a young aged I enjoyed sanding furniture, refinishing it, and building things here and there.”

In April of last year Gourgue and Dunn came across an injured opossum and decided to take him in. “I already had a cat house so we used that for him, but the end of his tail was lost and it started to turn black,” explained Gourgue. “So, we looked at the refuge and we brought him there and ever since we love what they do, what they believe in, and we’re animal lovers. Throughout Covid, I started doing woodworking. I did birdhouses, bat houses, nut bars, swings, and we decided this year, every year starting this year, that we are going to take an item built throughout the year and donate for some charity.”

Having seen bats for the first time last summer, Gourgue and Dunn decided to build bat houses and they had one extra left. “Chris and I have been wanting to give back for quite some time and her (owner Anne-Marie Demers) devotion has inspired us to participate indirectly and give back through the raffle,” mention Gourgue. “Proceeds will be going to the refuge and a lucky winner will be the new owner of a bat house. Not everyone has a use for a bat house, but there are lots of animal lovers out there that want to help out. This is a great opportunity to do that.”

Gourgue emphasized that it’s important for people to help wild animals in any way that they can and his hoping that the raffle will encourage people to do so and make people aware of the refuge.
“We take care of our domestic animals, but for me coming out and seeing an animal injured on the side of the road, it breaks my heart. For the people that have enough courage to stop and see if the animal is injured and actually take care of it is huge and I think we should all help out that way,” she said. “Next year it might be a different sanctuary. We are supporting animal causes and especially the people that care for them is a big thing. They are important in the picture, not just the animal, because without them, the animal would just suffer.”

Le refuge Lobadanaki is going on its sixth year and it is one of the only places of its kind in the region, and its surrounding areas, in terms of helping wild animals. They have taken in between 500-600 wild animals from as far as Montreal up to Lac-Mégantic every year.

“In the Estrie, for the moment, I’m practically alone,” said Anne-Marie. “I know there was one in Magog that wanted to get started, but it’s been many years and it hasn’t been effective and there are two others close to Lac-Méganitc.”

The refuge does not receive financial aid with Anne-Marie emphasizing that partnerships with people like Gourgue and Dunn are vital. “It helps us a lot, partnerships like that; it touches us a lot,” she said. “We have a vision for the refuge to be a way of life for the animals, daily actions to take care of the environment, and there are many practices that we don’t want to use so we have to be creative.”

Anne-Marie explained that there are base costs when starting a refuge and many people become discouraged. “There are base costs like insurance, veterinarians, specialized milk. There are many magical partners that offer help like Stéphanie with her bat houses; it’s wonderful and amazing,” she added.

Woodstock Projects’ raffle draw will take place on April 4 and the refuge will draw a name out of the draw box (all on video). The video will be posted on the refuge’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/refugelobadanaki/

Those wanting to participate to support Le refuge Lobadanaki can send an e-mail to woodstokprojects@gmail.com with the number of entries.

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