The Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) has announced its grant funding for 2014, providing over $131,000 to 17 different charitable organizations across the Sea to Sky.
"Our mandate is to enhance the quality of life in the community, so that's going to include everything from health to social action to a healthy environment," said CFOW executive director Carol Coffey. "We're there to support everything as much as we can."
The CFOW issued a total of 24 grants this year through a number of different funds. Through the Community Grants Program, five different organizations including the Zero Ceiling Society of Canada, Whistler Adaptive and Whistler Community Services Society received funding.
Through the Environmental Legacy Grants Program, the CFOW's largest, six environmental organizations received a total of 12 grants, including three for the Whistler Naturalists Society and two for the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE). The environmental advocacy group was awarded $7,800 towards the creation of an old tree trail map that will offer residents and visitors a walking and biking guide to Whistler's old forest and "character trees," explained AWARE executive director Claire Ruddy, who said a mobile app is also being considered. The second grant of $15,000 will go towards the second year of AWARE's community outreach and growth campaign.
"This is all about increasing the scope of AWARE as an organization to engage with the community around environmental issues and to increase the resources to take on and deliver projects," Ruddy said, adding that, thanks to CFOW's help last year, AWARE was able complete the research necessary in order to bid and secure $42,000 in outside project funding.
"It's really a kind of enabler for us to increase capacity in the environmental sector as a whole," she said.
This year, the CFOW also issued $1,000 in funding through the Whistler Youth Foundation Grant to the Whistler Community Services Society's (WCSS) KidSport program, which assists children from financially restricted families to participate in sport. WCSS received two other grants as well: $1,500 for its school lunch program and $2,500 through the Jill Ackhurst Social Action Grant to help cover the cost of counselling for individuals who can't afford it.
In 2013-14, WCSS provided counselling assistance to 75 individuals or families, of which 18 were in a situation of "severe financial restriction," according to executive director Cheryl Skribe.
"In most cases, without funding these people would not be able to get timely treatment," she added.
Supporting mental health was the focus of this year's Jill Ackhurst grant, with the North Shore Schizophrenia Society also receiving $2,000 towards the development of a Whistler family support group.
"The Jill Ackhurst Social Action committee really stepped up and thought outside the box on this one and realized that mental health is an important part of the health of the community," Skribe said. "It's absolutely critical for us that Whistler has such a generous, kind and caring heart and is organized in the form of these amazing foundations."
In addition to the thousands of dollars in grant funding already issued, the CFOW expects to dispense between $40,000 and $50,000 this year, Coffey said, through several endowment funds for community organizations, including Whistler Animals Galore and Whistler Search and Rescue.
"We have nine endowment funds that we operate for nine different charitable organizations and every year their endowment fund generates income, so we grant that out to those organizations to provide them with some operating income and they're free to use it however they see best," Coffey explained.
Visit www.whistlerfoundation.com to view a list of the entire corridor's 2014 grant recipients, donate or inquire about volunteer opportunities with the CFOW.