With new board members, an expanding reach and big events on the horizon, the Banff Community Foundation is looking at another solid year of work in a smart and caring community.
The foundation held its annual general meeting Thursday (June 13) in council chambers at Town Hall and, according to board chair Carsten Sorensen, the group expects another banner year after distributing $61,000 to a wide range of community building projects last year.
Those funds went to, “social services, health and wellness, culture, the environment and heritage and when you’re giving those cheques to people who need it most, you know what you’re doing is a good thing.”
BCF, said Sorensen, is working toward Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, as are community foundations across the country, to take up Governor General David Johnston’s challenge of building smart and caring communities everywhere.
“My hope is that the Banff Community Foundation can raise $150,000 that year, $1,000 for each year. I believe we have traction and are gaining momentum in that direction.”
Another highlight of the current year’s efforts by BCF, said Sorensen, is that the group recently sent seven representatives to a Community Foundations of Canada event in Winnipeg. “Which, I believe, was the highest per capita of anyone there. Banff is going to host a youth conference in 2015 and that’s a huge arrow in our quiver.”
At the AGM, the foundation also introduced three new board members, Camp Chief Hector Manager Jill Jamieson, Parks Canada retiree Bill Fisher and Canmore RBC Manager Scott Moncur.
“My joining was serendipitous,” said Jamieson. “I happened to meet Lorraine and was looking for something that fit my values.”
“I have time on my hands,” said Fisher, “and I wanted to give back more to the community.”
“This is a very exciting opportunity,” said Moncur, “I’m looking forward to working with this board.”
In welcoming the new members, Sorensen said, “this is a marvellous board, with maturity, depth of knowledge and youth. I’ve been in since its inception, when it was a dream.”
With two new members from outside Banff, board member Brian Callaghan said, “we’re known as the Banff Community Foundation, but we distribute funds throughout the Bow Valley and into Morley. We fund projects in schools, with First Nations and YWCA programs, I’m proud of the fact we’re reaching beyond and it shows what’s raised in the valley, stays in the valley.”
Among the seven representatives who went to Winnipeg as part of the BCF contingent were youth representatives, Hana Kujawa and Krista Korhonen.
The pair made a presentation at the Winnipeg event and, as youth representatives, told those gathered “we’re not interested in a seat at the kids’ table. We’re not just youth-friendly, we’re community friendly. We’re a driving force and we’re not here just for the future, we’re the here and now.”
At the Winnipeg event, said Korhonen, “among 18 youth representatives, we had 10 languages, 20-plus university degrees and had travelled to all continents. If that is the potential of the 18 youth delegates there, imagine the potential from across the country.”
Kujawa asked why, if there were close to 200 foundations across the country, “there aren’t 200 youth. Community foundations need to get youth involved.”
The Banff pair met with two girls from Squamish who met with CFC CAO Ian Bird and discussed regional youth representatives and the establishment of a newsletter for the youth of Canada.
Philanthrophy, and working with a group like BCF, said Kujawa, came naturally. “In my family, philanthropy was something we just did. I gave some of my allowance to the library, so even as a child, I saw the sense of donating in the community.
“I’m here today, ready to lead my generation, and the next generation in philanthropy.”
For Korhonen, the Winnipeg conference, “was an amazing opportunity. We were one of the smaller foundations in Canada there, but we felt like one of the biggest. Remember, you make your community and your community makes you.”
In closing, Sorensen, said, “If you two are an indication of the future, we’re in good hands.”
Last year, funds distributed through BCF fundraising went to programs and services as diverse as Food for Learning, ensuring every school aged child has nutritional support; Banff LIFE, personal development for 18 to 30 year olds; a YWCA sexual assault awareness campaign; music therapy for seniors at St. Martha’s Place in the Mineral Springs Hospital; an avalanche awareness program; a travelling suicide prevention program and the Canadian Rockies Regional Science Fair for budding scientists in the valley.