Foundation spreads a little hope along with their celebration

Boundary Sentinel
By Boundary Sentinel
November 16th, 2012

What would you do if you had $800,000? Would you give it to your community? Well, the Phoenix Foundation of the Boundary Communities, celebrating 15 years of giving last week, has done just that – granted money to support community projects.

“In 1997, a group of like-minded individuals, including Cathy Manson, Maxine Ruzicka, Peggy Phillips, Bill Strookoff, Art Stavenjord, Peter Perepolkin, Dave Dale, Homer Good and many others came together and formed a plan that they believed would benefit the Boundary communities,” said Christine Thompson, board president. “Today, we carry on the legacy, continuing to reach out to our community so that we can grow the funds and assist local organizations and charities in achieving their goals and objectives.”

On Thursday, Nov. 8 the Foundation hosted an evening at Gallery 2 in Grand Forks. Five community organizations who received grants in 2012 had displays about their organization giving the guests an opportunity to network with the volunteers. Christina Lake resident Juno Shenstone played the harp as people enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and wine.

The piece de resistance was a presentation from the Hope Lady, Wendy Edey of the Hope Foundation of Alberta. Edey is a counselling psychologist who is a hope specialist practicing and teaching the integration of hope strategies into counselling for people facing illness and complex problems.

Edey talked about the concept of hope, hopeful words, how we find hope, how hope symbols can play a role in our lives, and how the very essence of charities is that of hope: of the opportunity to share and imagine a better future. Her dynamic presentation, filled with stories of how life often turns out better than expected with a little hope, was enjoyed by the 45 people at the event.

“Some days I’m hopeful, and others, well, not so much, but it’s the same day on any given day regardless of how hopeful I am. Being hopeful is a state of being, like when I think that something good could happen but I don’t know enough about the future to make a detailed plan. That’s why on any given day, if I have a choice, I can choose to be hopeful,” Edey said.

“Hope is very contagious. That’s why it’s always a good idea to hang out with hopeful people.”

Founded in 1997 by a group of motivated volunteers anxious to see their communities grow and succeed, the Phoenix Foundation has been the recipient of donations from corporations, local government and citizens of the Boundary. Those donations have, in turn, grown over time in investments and returned funds for distribution across the region.

“We have contributed $365,000 in grants, along with nearly $500,000 in flow-through grants – that’s over $800,000 that would not have otherwise come to our area without the help of the Foundation,” said executive director Mona Mattei at the 15th anniversary celebration last week.

“Our donors have confidence in the Phoenix Foundation and that confidence came from 15 years of transparent, accountable management with the dedication of the board’s volunteers. Thanks to all those who have stepped forward to bring this organization to where it is today – our founders, volunteers and donors.”

Mattei recognized the wide range of donors who have contributed to the over $1.6 million in invested funds the Foundation manages today from corporate contributors like Unifab, Grand Forks Credit Union, and Roxul Inc., to agencies who have entrusted funding and community partnerships in Greenwood, Midway and Christina Lake. But, most of all, said Mattei, the largest number of contributions have come from Boundary citizens with over 2000 donors.

“I feel the Foundation offers organizations hope – an option to access money to help them with even the smallest project – like buying a fridge or a freezer, or to add to larger projects such as the Greenwood pool renovations or the Habitat for Humanity multi-plex where other funders might have looked the other way,” Mattei added.

Looking to the future, the Foundation continues to grow with generous donations from the community and in particular the commitment this year from the Grand Forks Credit Union to create a new fund and build it to $1 million over time.

“This is an incredible legacy for the Boundary,” explained outgoing board co-president Linda Manzon. “Watch our website to see us move forward with the initiative from Canada’s Governor General David Johnston to create “Smart and Caring communities” across our country.”

Manzon added that the success of the Foundation to work on key priorities that arose from the VitalSigns report they produced in 2009 is an indicator on how the organization is focused on addressing root problems that concern the local residents. The new nation-wide campaign for Smart and Caring communities is another way for the Foundation to work to engage every part of the Boundary, added Manzon.

In the next month you can contribute to the Foundation and get a gift for that someone who is hard to buy for – donate to the Foundation and they will send a charitable tax receipt on your behalf. This Christmas giving option is available at the reception in the Grand Forks Credit Union.

For more information on the Foundation visit their website: www.phoenix-foundation.net