The gift that keeps on giving E-mail

 

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The Bridgetown and Area Community Fund was launched Nov. 25 at the End of the Line Pub. Three $500 grants from the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia were given to local charities, and certificates to two students whose artwork was used for the BACF logo. From left are Chad Durling (student), Maria Gillighan (student), Shawn Hannam (Annapolis County Search and Rescue), Debbie Decker (Trans-County Transportation Society), Mary Longley Pecharsky (BACF) , Allison Kouzovnikov (Community Fund of Nova Scotia), Bob Nason (BACF), Andy Kerr (Bridgetown Band Parents Association). Geoffrey Agombar
By Geoffrey Agombar

Spectator

NovaNewsNow.com

At a time of year when everyone is thinking about giving, a new community initiative in Bridgetown is answering the age-old question: What do you give the town that doesn’t have everything?

Their answer: the Bridgetown Area Community Fund, an endowment fund which turns earned interest into grants in support of local causes and organizations.

As only the third such fund in the province, Bridgetown is on the leading edge of a new force for rural development in the Nova Scotia. Allison Kouzovnikov, from the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, an umbrella organization which advises and unites the foundations, explained that such funds may be new to Nova Scotia but they play an essential role elsewhere. Canada’s first was the Winnipeg Foundation in 1921. Today it manages $450 million in assets and distributes grants throughout the province of Manitoba.

A better example of what to expect in Bridgetown however might be Carberry, MB.

“Carberry is a farming town with a population of about 3,000 that launched a community foundation in the latter half of the ’90s. Between 1998 and 2001, they pulled together about $500,000 in assets, and were already paying out $12,000 in grants in 2001,” said Kouzouvnikov.

“One of the lessons of the current global turmoil is that if your focus is always outward, you become vulnerable because your community becomes vulnerable. You live locally, why not give locally too? Maybe you have $25,000 to donate, maybe you have $25, maybe you have some property, or maybe you have information about a local organization that could use some help,” Kouzovnikov said. “The thing is, community matters and you have a role to play. The community foundations help the people at the ground level, who know best what needs to be done, to take control and make it happen.”

Similarly, BACF president Bob Nason stressed community pride and a desire for preservation and development during the local foundation’s launch November 25 in Bridgetown.

“When we started on this path, we weren’t thinking about 2008 or 2009. We were thinking about what we want Bridgetown to be in a hundred years,” he told the audience including Bridgetown Mayor Art Marshall and Annapolis County Warden Peter Newton. “We have dreams for our area. We feel good about our town and the people we spend our time with. We feel lucky. Blessed, really, to be living in such a vibrant, rural community. And, we’re very pleased to see you all here today as we launch the Bridgetown Area Community Fund so we can work to protect and develop this legacy for future generations.”

YOUNG ORGANIZATION

Board members also paid tribute to Cam Coulter, the first president of the still young organization, whose sudden and unexpected passing was a shock that knocked them back, but not off course.

“Actually, we were on track to be the first [community fund in the province]. The idea had come up during the town’s strategic planning process in May 2007,” explains board member Mel Bateman. “Cam took it on with great gusto and really did so much work to get it off the ground. It was a great shock to us all. But this is happening. Thanks in no small part to Cam, it’s happening.”

At the launch Nason and Mary Longley Pecharsky (BACF vice-president) both devoted time during their speeches to describing Coulter’s efforts, so his wife Carol would know just how essential a role his vision and his humour had played in making the foundation a reality, and to assure her of their intention to preserve his memory within the organization and through its work.

THREE GRANTS

Kouzovnikov helped get the foundation off on the right foot with three $500 grants to local charitable organizations. These grants did not come from BACF assets, but did offer a peek into a future where grants will be derived from locally generated assets. In this case, the money came from the proceeds of a class action lawsuit in Ontario, and the local recipients were Trans-County Transportation Society to subsidize transportation to and from medical appointments for clients who cannot otherwise afford the service, to Annapolis County Search and Rescue to support the purchase of a trailer to improve readiness and response times, and to the Bridgetown Band Parents Association in support of their fundraising for a band trip to Ottawa and Toronto.

Two students, Chad Durling and Maria Gillighan, were presented with certificates commemorating the artwork they had contributed for the BACF logo.

* * * * *

The Bridgetown Area Community Fund will support organizations and causes within the Bridgetown fire department catchment area. The foundation will distribute grants annually from the interest earned, not from the principle assets.

If you are interested in contributing to the foundation’s development (through donation or otherwise), you are encouraged to contact any of the organization’s board members personally:

Bob Nason, Mary Longley Pecharski, Marilyn Kaulbach, Janice Lawrence, Mel Bateman, and Dave Mack.

 
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