By Dan Rankin
Stratford Perth Community Foundation (SPCF) representatives, along with Perth South mayor Bob Wilhelm and others from around the township, gathered at the St. Marys Golf and Country Club on Wednesday to announce the launch of the new “Perth South Smart & Caring Community Fund.”
SPCF Executive Director Tracy Van Kalsbeek announced plans to raise $50,000 to start building an endowment fund for Perth South that would become a sustainable funding resource for local projects and initiatives. “Anyone can give to this fund – $10, $100, $10,000 – and the donations raised in this community, stay in this community,” she said.
“We know what a great community this is, and we all want to try to make it better somehow,” Wilhelm said. “By supporting a fund, the money raised will go directly back into our community and the principal will never be touched. This will provide funds for individuals, groups and organizations within Perth South for years to come.”
At the launch, Wilhelm presented Van Kalsbeek a cheque for $5,000 towards the new fund on behalf of the Wilhelm family.
According to Van Kalsbeek, Wilhelm’s donation brought the total amount of dollars raised for the fund to $16,000 – already almost a third of the way to the target. Other donations have already been received by the family of Ron and Lois McKay, the Optimist Club of Downie and the South Easthope Mutual Insurance Company.
McKay, a past Perth South Reeve and County Warden and also an SPCF Board Member, provided a few ideas on how local citizens could support the new Perth South Smart & Caring Community Fund. “Citizens can include the Fund in their year-end giving or collect donations for special occasions,” he said. You can also budget a monthly contribution, leave a gift for the fund in your will, or give a percentage of the value of a newly-sold farm, he said. “You’ll get a tax credit for [your donation] and the Perth South Foundation will get it instead of the government.”
The Perth South launch is part of a county-wide drive, setting up community funds in Stratford, St. Marys and each of the four Perth municipalities. “The dollars raised in each community stay in that community,” she said. “2015 saw us launch our first two communities. That’s Stratford and North Perth. In Stratford we’ve already raised $156,000 and in North Perth we’ve raised $57,000. This year we’re branching out here in Perth South and also in St. Marys.”
The St. Marys fund is set to launch this fall. Next year Perth East and West Perth will follow suit.
At $156,000, the Stratford Smart & Caring Community Fund has already reached over half of its $250,000 goal and the North Perth Smart & Caring Community Fund has reached $57,000 of its $100,000 goal.
The SPCF now has 67 endowed, unrestricted funds worth $3 million in community assets, Van Kalsbeek said.
“We strive to be that link between caring community members and local causes that matter,” she said. “We foster philanthropy through the creation and management of endowed special funds helping local residents make a lasting difference. We’re part of a strong national network of 191 community foundations across Canada. We look for ways to collaborate and connect with others.”
Local citizen and longtime Stratford registered nurse Jean Aitcheson also spoke at the event, describing how she established her own nursing scholarship fund through the SPCF that is helping her give back to local students. “I approached Tracy almost a year ago now and I am so excited that the very first scholarship will be given out at Stratford Northwestern Secondary School this fall,” Aitcheson said. “I encourage everybody to touch the people you know, tell them about the initiative and what it will mean for our community.”
Local charities and not-for-profit organizations will be able to access the new Perth South fund by applying for grants, Van Kalsbeek said, adding that this includes groups ranging from sports organizations to Girl Guides, to schools and 4-H Clubs.
To learn more or to make a donation to the Perth South Smart & Caring Community Fund call 519-271-1503, or visit SPCCF.ca, scroll down, and click “Donate Now.”