A new initiative from the Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) is preserving Whistler’s stories and ensuring a legacy is left behind for future generations.
“The Legacy Book of Whistler gives donors the opportunity to write a personal statement about Whistler, their experience in the community and what Whistler means to them, while at the same time leaving a promise of a gift to the Community Foundation,” explained CFOW director Carol Coffey.
So far six community members have shared their stories in the book, which is intended to expand as more residents add to it. It’s a way to not only get these important, personal stories on paper, but also encourage the community to start thinking about what they will leave behind when they’re gone.
“When it comes to doing a will and talking to family members and friends about what you value, some people have difficulty talking about those things, and this is a way to let friends and family know about what matters to you,” Coffey added. “It’s actually quite important when it comes to estate planning because if you don’t communicate these things to your family ahead of time, it can create problems after you pass away if they don’t have an understanding of what was really important to you.”
On top of contributing to the book, Doug and Mary Forseth also created an endowment fund at the CFOW that will support scholarships for graduates in Sea to Sky who wish to pursue studies in tourism and hospitality. Eventually the fund will also support the Whistler Search and Rescue Society, Whistler Animals Galore Society and the Community Grants program at the CFOW.
"One is hard-pressed to find more active members of the community. Doug is a key member of the Whistler Blackcomb leadership team and Mary made her mark on the arts world in Whistler," said Coffey. "The influence of these two extends beyond the business world and reaches far into the fabric of the community with volunteer work, support for non-profits and many friendships."
Longtime Whistler resident Peter Ackhurst wanted to contribute to the legacy book in the memory of his late wife, Jill, an active volunteer and philanthropist who passed away in 2003. A former chair of the Whistler Community Services Society, the Jill Ackhurst Social Action Fund, which supports projects that identify and resolve health and social issues in the community, was created in her honour.
“It’s the memory of Jill (that inspired me),” said Ackhurst. “Jill was always very focused on action — she didn’t like to talk about things, she just wanted to do them.”
With Whistler’s early generation getting older, coupled with the lightning-quick evolution of the community, it’s important that these stories get told, said Ginny Dennehy, who also contributed to the book.
“We have so much history in our backyard, but we just need people to take the time to write these stories,” she said. “You don’t have to have done something amazing. It’s just a part of our history, and as we get older, we realize that we do have stuff to say and that that next generation might not realize where it all started from.”
Dennehy, who launched the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation with her husband, Kerry, after their son committed suicide at the age of 18 in 2001, said she never could have imagined how much Whistler would come to mean to her family when she moved to the resort years ago. Adding their story to the legacy book was just a small token of the Dennehys’ appreciation.
“The community of Whistler has been amazing to us as a family and a foundation and the support we’ve gotten from the people… I don’t think you’d find that (elsewhere),” she said. “I don’t think people realize sometimes there’s this whole (group of people) behind Whistler that is such a caring, giving community.”
The CFOW plans to place the Legacy Book of Whistler in central locations around the community to encourage residents to contribute. Anyone interested in sharing their story can contact the CFOW through www.whistlerfoundation.com.