It was a quarter-century ago that a number of Comox Valley locals banded together to launch a foundation as a way for the community to invest in itself.
Now, the Comox Valley Community Foundation is hoping to hear more stories, especially from the earliest years, as it sent a call-out in a recent newsletter for supporters to fill in some of the gaps of the CVCF story.
Executive director Susan Auchterlonie told the Record that while they have the info listing grant recipients and amounts, that is really only part of the story. What is missing is what those grants did to help the organizations and, by extension, the community.
“We’re looking for these types of stories,” she says. “We can fill in our history.”
Art Meyers was one of the initial board members back in 1996 when the foundation started. While there were charitable foundations in the Comox Valley, they all had specific mandates, and it was felt there was a need for a broader-based one for the whole community.
“It took some doing, it took a lot of meetings,” he says. “We knew it would be very popular, and it would suit so many people.”
Audrey Craig became involved in the early, serving as the third president for the organization. Things had grown but were still small. Today, the foundation holds $15 million in assets and has given out$4.2 million in grants to more than 170 groups and 230 students.
“I remember being excited when we got over a million dollars,” she says.
She recalls many highlights, especially the galas to distribute the grants. A particular favourite was when Lt.-Gov. Iona Campagnolo was the guest speaker.
Craig thinks one of the keys to the success of the organization has been the fact it represents so many aspects of life in the Comox Valley.
“It was a real cross-section of every walk of life,” she says. “I just can’t imagine the Comox Valley without it.”
Some of the funds are earmarked for specific campaign and causes. This past year, Auchterlonie says the foundation has used its Community Fund though to support many programs in response to the pandemic and subsequent economic disruption.
“It just gives us a great amount of flexibility,” Auchterlonie says.
The story continues for the foundation, but CVCF does want to gather more stories in the coming weeks and months to mark the 25th year.
Auchterlonie is also hoping that conditions will allow for some kind of public event, perhaps later in the year, but that is still to be determined as pandemic restrictions evolve in the near future.
For now, the foundation is giving some extra attention to its past. For more information, see https://cvcfoundation.org/