A local nonprofit organization has given out more than $130,000 to date, with no signs of stopping.
The Kent-Harrison Foundation recently announced this year’s lineup of grant recipients. They include the Scouts, the AESS culinary program, the Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society, Agassiz-Harrison Senior Peer Support, The Harrison Festival Society, the Agassiz-Harrison Swim Club and the Kent-Harrison Arts Council. This year’s total grants is $8,000. That brings the foundation’s total donated up to $134,640 since the foundation started distributing grants in 2001.
“We had a diverse group of applicants this year,” says Judy Croft, treasurer and chair of the committee to select this year’s recipients.
Executive director Robby Robertson says they are pleased to offer grants to local organizations that do so much for the community. Their mission statement declares that the foundation, in meeting community needs, provides philanthropic leadership to improve the quality of life for all residents in our community.
While the foundation has been around since 1994, Robertson says, “We’re probably the best-kept secret in town.”
In 2015, they hope to change that. By letting the community know just what the foundation does, the board members want to encourage more involvement in terms of volunteering, financial support or grant applications.
The foundation, whose motto is Creating Opportunity Today and Tomorrow, celebrated their 20th anniversary last year. It was “quite active” in its early years with many volunteers and high awareness of the group. But over time, it has fallen from the forefront and now is championed by a small but dedicated board of directors.
This non-profit organization can collect charitable donations of any size. The money is pooled together and invested through the Vancouver Foundation, alongside other community foundation’s funds to make for larger investments and, therefore, larger earnings. The dividends are released back to the Kent-Harrison Foundation to support local initiatives and projects through the annual grant process. The initial donation is never spent, meaning it continues to earn interest to support projects year after year.
“It’s a legacy that will go on,” says Croft.
Donations can come from businesses or individuals, such as one candidate in the last municipal election opting out of election signs and giving the money instead to the foundation. Other funds come in through anonymous donations or the grant-in-aids provided by the District of Kent.
“We rely on donations from people and investments from the Vancouver Foundation” explains Croft.
Any organization can apply for a grant. Some have been lucky to find support in the Kent-Harrison Foundation year after year. One of the longtime grant recipients is the Harrison Festival Society. The donation from the Kent-Harrison Foundation is earmarked to help cover the costs of the main performer for Children’s Day.
“It’s wonderful to get this local support from the area,” says Andy Hillhouse, executive director at the Harrison Festival Society. “It allows these events to remain accessible.”
One of the newest recipients is the Agassiz-Harrison Senior Peer Support group. This is their second time to get a grant from the foundation and they are thrilled.
“Theirs was such a worthwhile project,” says Robertson.
The funding for the Senior peer support group is to help cover the costs of the senior / teen lunches that take place every two months. Eunice Royle, president of the Agassiz-Harrison Senior Peer Support, says they are grateful for the support. It helps to keep a wonderful program running that bridges the gap between senior citizens and teenagers in our community.
The Kent-Harrison Foundation also manages four endowment funds: the Wallis L. Maguire Endowment Fund, the McCombs Family Endowment Fund, the Mayor Don Ramsey Endowment Fund and the Pretty Family Memorial Scholarship Fund. Each bursary is for $500 and available to graduating students who meet specific criteria such as for students going into law enforcement or for students from Harrison Mills.
There are currently seven active Board members. Robertson would like to add a couple more to that list and encourages anyone interested in learning more to contact the foundation.
For more information please see www.kentharrisonfoundation.com by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Box 618 Agassiz B.C. V0M 1A0.