Legacy building – right here in our valley

An inside look at the North Thompson Communities Foundation

(L-r) North Thompson Communities Foundation representatives

(L-r) North Thompson Communities Foundation representatives

Long term resources for long term solutions can best describe what a community foundation can do for  the communities it encompasses.  There are currently 191 community foundations across Canada, with combined assets of more than $3.8 billion, and serving 82 per cent of Canada’s population.  In 2013 community foundations granted out more than $158 million to Canadian communities.

“We are a part of this large Canadian movement and work to support healthy people, healthy land and healthy communities in the North Thompson Valley,” says Cheryl Thomas, chair of the North Thompson Communities Foundation (NTCF), when asked to describe what the foundation is all about.

“Here in the North Thompson Valley we began when Weyerhaeuser closed their operations in Vavenby,” continued Thomas, “Their small fund of $50,000 was turned into $100,000 as a ‘matching funds’ opportunity when the Vancouver Foundation made this possible.

“Matching funding has been very important for our Foundation.  With the ability to do this we’ve set up the Donnie Nicholson Memorial Trades Bursary,  and also generated enough funds to really start granting from the NTCF Arts Endowment in 2014.

“We at the Foundation would like to think of ‘endowments’ as ‘forever funds’.  We feel that this is the only way that so very many people in communities can be helped year after year.  We only spend the interest earned.  No one receives a pay cheque except the bookkeeper.  We directors believe in providing for the future of our valley and all it’s residents, and are prepared to put our time and resources into ensuring this success.”

Thomas adds that the NTCF likes to partner with groups within the valley as well.

“Not only is this reflected in our granting, but also as each director is out and about in their home community, the Foundation conversation happens,” said Thomas, “Whether it be at a garden club meeting or an art club meeting; we find that we are often slipping the Foundation’s name into the conversation.”

Asked about what  the NTCF board of directors see as their responsibilities, Thomas says, “As the NTCF we realize that it’s not about us. Yes, we are adults in the community that are going off to work, and providing for the future of our individual families; however, as a Foundation we all realize that all our daily work is really about the future.  Our work is building a healthy group of educated confident youngsters. Our work is offering support to groups of individuals who see the value in long term investment of time and energy around our children, our fields, lakes and forests; all so that we can have a myriad of healthy animals, fish and wildlife experiences for our children’s children.  We’ve heard the term “nature deficit disorder” and therefore look to supporting community projects that support the health of the entire valley.”

We asked the chair what messages the NTCF would like to get out to the public at this time?

1.  The NTCF has so far granted over $50,000 to support local initiatives to help build healthy people in healthy communities within the North Thompson Valley.

2.  The NTCF supports using a holistic approach in focusing on healthy people, healthy land and healthy communities.

3.  The NTCF grant funds to a broad range of local not-for-profits; in this way providing assistance to a wide range of initiatives helping to build strong and resilient places to live, work and play.

Thomas says one of the prime messages they would like to get out to the communities under the NTCF umbrella is the creation of the Smart and Caring Fund.

“For our 10th anniversary we created a Smart and Caring Fund in support of His Excellency David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, when he invited all Canadians in “…imagining our country as it could be, a smart and caring nation, where all Canadians can succeed, contribute, and develop their talents to their fullest potential”.”

Thomas says Communities Foundation Patron, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, supports him in this vision.

“The Smart and Caring Fund will help to cultivate, celebrate and nurture the health of the North Thompson Valley,” said Thomas.

We asked her just exactly what is the NTCF’s Smart and Caring Fund and what is it’s purpose?

“To me it is a valley where individuals can feel that they are valued,” answered the NTCF chair, “Volunteering to get things done; yes, but more than that.  Volunteering is learning.  It is knowledge sharing.  It is literacy of the written word, the art world, and the mathematical world.  Knowledge is the key to feeling good about oneself and ones surroundings.

“We’ve supported projects like the Granny/Grandpa connection box, where trained volunteers don puppets on their hands to tell First Nations stories; thus preserving the stories and ‘life-lessons’ from past generations and sharing these pearls of wisdom with the little ones.  It is the little ones who will soon be making the decisions that they will need to make in order to have a happy healthy life for themselves and those they care about.

“The Smart and Caring Fund is also designed to meet future needs and wants within the valley. This fund will be available to help facilitate ideas that we don’t even know about today, as well as those we already support.”

Thomas noted that His Honour Governor General David Johnson “wisely suggested” that each Community Foundation establish a Smart and Caring fund; and NTCF has done just that.

“We welcome the thought that there will be new ideas, that new needs will arise and our Foundation will be ready and able to answer the call,” said Thomas.

How does Thomas personally feel about the North Thompson Communities Foundation?

“I feel good.  It feels good to be a part of an organization that is not thinking only of today – but rather tomorrow,” said Thomas, “I feel good about being part of a country wide, indeed a world wide organization that cares about the future. I feel enthused and want to work towards a better future for our children, for our valley.

“We directors don’t just attend meetings either – we make monthly donations to support the endowments of our choice. We attend meetings and learning events in other communities. We work at committee and working group level as well.

Thomas says the board is learning by doing, they may not always get it right, and they may seem to always be asking for help, but they have a staunch belief that they are on the right track through the opportunities presented through the North Thompson Communities Foundation to ensure that there is a healthy happy future for the communities of the North Thompson Valley.

Thomas concluded, “Being a part of a Foundation as a board member, as the chair, is good; but being a part of a group that is setting an example for our communities is even beyond good.”

If you would like to learn more about the North Thompson Communities Foundation go to: www.ntcommunitiesfoundation.com, or call Cheryl Thomas at 250-674-3260, or NTCF grant chair Hazel Waddlegger at 250-674-3774.