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CFOW establishes fund in memory of Kathy Barnett

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Pique co-founder and owner Kathy Barnett continues to be remembered and honoured in the community.

Last week the Community Foundation of Whistler   (CFOW) announced that a memorial endowment fund has been set up in her name.

In the past several months since Barnett’s death, close to $44,000 has been donated to the CFOW in her memory.

“In one way it is amazing, but in another way Kathy was so important (to the community) that it doesn’t surprise me,” said Kerry Chalmers, the CFOW’s executive director.

Barnett, 49, was struck by a car while cycling with a bike tour near Taupo, New Zealand last January. She was with her husband, Pique’s news editor, Bob Barnett at the time.

No one else was injured in the accident.

The driver pleaded guilty in July, was fined, sentenced to community service hours, and his licence was suspended.

Barnett was active in a number of community and business organizations. She was a founding member and past president of the CFOW, a board member of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of B.C., past chair of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, and in 2005 she was appointed to the provincial Ministry of Small Business and Revenue’s roundtable on small business.

She was also awarded the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year award in 2002.

The new memorial fund will be distributed in a unique way explained Chalmers.

The CFOW, with input from Barnett’s family and husband, are targeting women in the community who want to improve their leadership skills and give back to Whistler.

For this reason recipients who apply must be partnered with a local charity group.

“It was developed this way because Kathy was so involved in our community,” said Chalmers.

“So what we have developed is the Kathy Barnett Leadership Grant Program. This is a grants program that will support females in the Sea to Sky corridor to participate in some form of professional development opportunity.”

That could be attending a program, a course or even a conference.

“We wanted to make sure that there was a benefit to the community and that it was making a difference,” said Chalmers.

“It is a scholarship in the sense that it will go to an individual, but it is a grant because it is really for betterment of the community. I think one of the challenges with scholarships is that recipients receive them and then usually they go off for post secondary study and may or may not come back to the community.

“With this particular grant the recipient most definitely comes back to the community and puts the skills and experiences they have learned to use right away, so that is quite unique.

“We feel it is really going to address a need in our community.”

Chalmers said there are many occasions where people working or volunteering for organizations would like to attend professional development courses but no budget exists to cover it. This new endowment will help overcome that financial gap.

The grant will be awarded in the spring and is likely to be between $1,000 and $2,000 in 2009.

Donations can be made to the fund at any time. Go to www.whistlerfoundation.com to get more information.

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