A cross-section of Whistler non-profits recently gathered to discuss their projects and recognize the support of the Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW), which funds many of the organizations.
"This past year, we gave out around $220,000, and it goes up a little bit each year," explained Carol Coffey, executive director of the CFOW, adding that the organization has around $6.5 million in endowments and has given away some $2 million since 1999.
The CFOW manages donations as long-term investments, reinvesting the dividends back into the community.
"Most of our funds are permanent endowments," said Coffey. "So the capital is permanently invested, and it earns dividends each year that we give back to the community."
During presentations, Barbora Vaneckova of the Whistler Multicultural Network (WMN) recalled how the WMN helped a Japanese woman learn English and grow her sense of belonging, and Clare Greenberg of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council discussed a project that saw the organization take action on a goldfish infestation in Pinecrest Lake, near Black Tusk.
Chris Wrightson, co-executive director of Zero Ceiling, explained how a CFOW grant helped her take two classes at Simon Fraser University. Zero Ceiling provides young people who have experienced homelessness with the opportunity to spend a year living and working in Whistler.
"The financial management (course) was helpful to make sure that we've got all the financial processes locked in and in place, especially as we look to scale (up) in the future," said Wrightson.
"The non-profit management course really helped us make sure we're being progressive in how we work."
Zero Ceiling also received money from the CFOW's Jill Ackhurst Social Action Fund, which is dedicated to supporting projects that address community health and social issues.
The money goes towards Zero Ceiling's family-dinner program.
"Every Tuesday, we come together with our participants and they take their turn to cook and we share a meal together," she said. "It's all about healthy eating on a budget and developing those life skills."
Carole Stretch, chair of the Vital Signs project team, gave some insights into the CFOW's upcoming plans.
The organization, she explained, is looking to start informal regular meetings—tentatively called "Vital Cafés"—that will aim to facilitate discussion around the CFOW's Vital Signs initiative, a project that offers a look at key community health indicators through statistics and local perspectives.
"What we want to do is make it much easier for people to just come, give us some feedback, talk about the community, (and learn) about their challenges and what they're doing," she said.
"What we want to do is make it informal ... so it's something people can drop into if they like."