We held our annual Community Gathering on May 12th 2016 in the Nicholas Keith Room at the Wellington County Museum and Archives. We unveiled our fifth contingent of eight projects that received Mini-Grants this year. Grant recipients shared stories of the impact of their work and how a mini-grant helps contribute to their success. We also provided those in attendance a status update on the growth of our still young Community Foundation. This year’s grants were from Kate and Margot Community Fund, Community Fund, Middlebrook Community Fund and, for the first time this year, Centre Wellington Youth Fund. We are pleased to be able to support these projects, a diverse and innovative cross section, highlighting our community at its best.
We had our first ever Centre Wellington Youth Fund recipient this year. This is a new and important fund geared to supporting a range of activities to develop youth in Centre Wellington. These activities include mentorship, social services, employment, education, physical fitness and other community activities targeting the holistic development of local young people.
KATE AND MARGOT COMMUNITY FUND GRANT RECIPIENTS:
(Supporting a broad range of charitable activities in which financial grants from the Fund are leveraged by other support, including through significant volunteer commitment, to such charitable activities.)
Organization: Community Resource Centre of North & Centre Wellington
Project: Spark of Brilliance, Centre and North Wellington
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Belonging & Leadership – Gap between Rich & Poor
Spark of Brilliance, Centre and North Wellington, working in Centre Wellington and North Wellington, provides workshops that offer creative activities open to anyone in the community, but especially those individuals who are coping with mental health and other life challenges. Spark aims to bring together those who might otherwise be isolated. All workshops are free as many of our participants live below the poverty line and are on disability pensions. A variety of talented mentors within the community share their gifts and time to foster creativity and enhance a sense of accomplishment and well-being in the participants.
With this years’ mini-grant, Spark of Brilliance plans to bring in volunteer mentors from all walks of life, including artists, potters and gardeners, to teach participants how to take better care of their pets, the environment and their life. Funding will also help support busing costs and snacks.
The FEDS Special Needs Soccer Program focuses on giving our adult community who have intellectual and/or physical challenges the possibility of playing and learning soccer skills. The goal of the program is intended to give our players an environment where they are comfortable while they are exposed to basic soccer skills and also experience, team play, social interaction, friendships, exercise and most important fun. The program allows all the players to participate and are able to develop without any undue pressure and at their own pace.
The goal of the concert is to have our special needs group and the rest of our community unite in a common event where they may both experience each other’s company in a setting of music and fun. The proceeds of the concert will benefit the FEDS Special Need Soccer Program.
CENTRE WELLINGTON YOUTH FUND GRANT RECIPIENTS:
(Supporting a range of activities to develop youth in Centre Wellington. These activities include mentorship, social services, employment, education, physical fitness and other community activities targeting the holistic development of local young people.)
Developed for male adolescents, the Game On program uses a mentor approach to provide boys with information and support to make informed choices about a range of healthy lifestyle practices. Through non-traditional physical activities, complemented with healthy eating support, participants are engaged in life skills, communication and discussions designed to engage participants in the pursuit of life-long healthy lifestyles.
Friendship, guidance and sharing are the central goals of Big Brothers Big Sisters longstanding mentoring success and are the driving force behind this program. Led by Mentors and run in conjunction with local schools Game On is designed to provide Mentors with the opportunity to openly discuss current and pressing issues facing boys (ages 12-14) through the lens of healthy living. Creating opportunities based on trust provides a key opportunity for each boy to be positively supported in challenging the pressures they face in today`s society.
Game On Mentors are young men (18-30) who are enthusiastic about healthy active living. They are specially selected, trained and screened by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre Wellington.
This program includes seven, seventy-five minute core sessions in the school setting at noon or after school. Each session is loosely structured around four themes: physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem and communication skills. A snack is provided and at each session which allows an opportunity to discuss topics such as the Canada Food Guide, sugar content of products, nutritional snack alternatives, etc.
COMMUNITY FUND GRANT RECIPIENTS:
(This is our core non-restricted fund which is able to grant to a broad range of worthy causes in our community. As such, this fund is a great choice for those wishing to fund the widest spectrum of community initiatives)
Adopt-A-Family matches donors with families in need in order to make Christmas shine a little brighter. Families are referred by social service and community agencies who have identified that the family is in need. In addition to providing gifts and grocery cards, the program provides families with hope during the holidays.
In 2015, the Children’s Foundation Adopt-A-Family was able to provide Christmas gifts and grocery cards for a total of 934 families, which included 2,053 children and youth. In Centre Wellington, 80 families were supported, which included 119 adults and 185 children and youth.
All children, regardless of their financial situation, have needs and wishes at the holiday time and the Adopt-A-Family Program helps bridge this gap between rich and poor by providing much-needed items such as winter wear, pajamas and bedding, along with the typical “wish” gifts that help kids feel normal and fit in with their peers.
In addition to providing children with gifts, we also provide families with grocery gift cards in the amount of $25 per family member. For example, a family of six would receive $150 in grocery gift cards. In lieu of a food hamper, the grocery cards allow the family the opportunity to purchase food and special items for a holiday meal while giving them the independence to make their own food choices that are practical and meaningful for them.
Organization: Community Resource Centre of North & Centre Wellington
Project: Elora Writer’s Festival
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Arts and Culture
The Elora Writers’ Festival’s goal is to promote literacy and appreciation for the written word by providing an annual venue for a diverse sampling of Canadian authors. This festival provides authors an opportunity to expose their body of work to book enthusiasts via an afternoon of intimate readings. EWF’s intimate setting allows attendees to interact directly with the authors and other book lovers in a way that larger festivals may not foster.
Our festival is run entirely through the efforts of volunteers. On the day of the festival, we usually enlist the aid of local high school students who earn credit for community volunteer hours with the added benefit of rubbing shoulders with some of the best contemporary Canadian authors. Our committee comprises literary-oriented people from all walks of life. All of us share a love for the written word and a desire to bring a greater appreciation for all sorts of literature to our community. We always try to present an eclectic sampling of the best in Canadian writing at our festival.
The grant was used to help offset the cost of bringing the authors to our community.
Organization: Upper Grand Learning Foundation
Project: James McQueen Public School – Playground Project
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Belonging & Leadership
The James McQueen Public School (JMQ) Playground Committee was formed in 2014 by a group of parent volunteers concerned about the ability of the school playground to meet the needs of the student population at JMQ. This was the year that two significant changes occurred at the school – full day kindergarten was implemented by the province and JMQ became a French Immersion & English primary school with student’s ages ranging from 3 ~ – 8 years old – yes, the oldest students in the school are in grade 3.
The goal of the committee is to optimize the current playground by creating a safe and positive play environment for students by incorporating natural elements and age appropriate activities which support and encourage interactions among students and aid in the development of imagination and creativity through play.
The committee observed children at play in the yard and solicited feedback from the Principal, staff, parents, yard professionals, and most importantly the students regarding playground needs. A draft plan was developed and the committee met with the UGDSB for feedback and approval. The plan was broken down into phases by the committee and we are now thrilled to be at a point where we can move forward with the playground naturalization component of the plan.
We feel this application is very well suited to the Belonging & Leadership component of the 2015 Vital Signs report. School is where children should feel they belong and where they learn the skills to be contributing community members and future leaders. It also speaks to Arts & Culture by developing creative and imaginative minds.
MIDDLEBROOK COMMUNITY FUND GRANT RECIPIENTS:
(The aim is to fund a broad spectrum of granting, primarily focused on the local Community. As future strategic granting initiatives emerge, the fund will aim to prioritize around such emerging needs.)
Organization: Township of Centre Wellington/ Elora Cataract Trailway Association
Project: The Founders Project
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Arts & Culture & Belonging & Leadership
The Elora Cataract Trailway is a free to use nature corridor well known in the community as contributing to the outdoor enjoyment, education, health and economic benefit for all citizens of Centre Wellington.
The Founders Project started as a way to recognize the story of how the Trailway came about and to show how dedicated volunteers can create something lasting for their community. The Founders Project is also an attempt to draw further awareness of the benefits of having a healthy trail network in our community that is accessible to all citizens at no cost to them. Our First initiative under the Founders Project banner is the Founders Forum which will bring together as many of the original volunteer leaders as possible to discuss how the trail came into existence and how they overcame the challenges. Mark Paine (Professional Radio Personality, The Grand 101.1) is donating his time to help develop the concept and will act as the interviewer for our forum. Cogeco has agreed to record and broadcast the event. Cogeco has also agreed to provide us with both the video and audio recordings of the event which we plan to use in further Founders Project initiatives down the road such as on our social media channels and a significant exhibit at the Wellington County Museum and Archives in the summer of 2017.
The information in the Founders Project can also be used today as a template of sorts for new groups looking to establish a trail. The grant has allowed us to develop this project.
Organization: Three Centuries Festival
Project: Elora Festival
Vital Signs Report Area of Priority: Gap between Rich – Poor & Belonging & Leadership
Over the years, the programming of the Elora Festival has encompassed all forms of classical music, jazz and folk. The guest musicians, conductors, singers, entertainers, and artists who have appeared at the Elora Festival over its 33 years of making beautiful music include such popular Canadian luminaries as Maureen Forrester, Holly Cole, Sarah McLachlan, Moe Kaufman, Dame Cleo Laine, Jesse Cook, Buffy Sainte-Maire, Andre Laplante, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Dawn Upshaw, Randy Bachman, Ben Heppner, Steven Page and many more.
We hope to remove the financial barriers to attending The Elora Festival. The grant from CWCF will help reduce ticket prices for families living in poverty, single parent families, students and refugees to be welcomed into our culture and community through the arts.