Words By Craig Gillis
Words By Laurel Cronk
Photo By Erin Wallis

Helping people help others for over 303 years.

“Never let it be said that to dream is a waste of one’s time, for dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future.” – Author unknown

Some people dream about making a difference in their community, about leaving a legacy by helping others. When the idea of a community foundation was first introduced to Campbell River in 1990, this dream became a reality. Created to enrich the quality of life for all people in our community, the dreamers had no idea that this foundation, through the financial support of many donors and dedicated volunteers, would surpass $500,000 in grants given to non-profit organizations, and would administer an emergency fund in response to a global pandemic in 2020. With tremendous thanks to then-Mayor Robert Ostler and Councillor Mary Ashley, the Campbell River Community Foundation (CRCF) became a stable and consistent source of assistance for a plethora of organizations supporting health, youth, education, art, culture, and the environment. By helping people help others, CRCF continues tobe the gift that keeps on giving.

As CRCF has grown and evolved, they have tapped into the Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), an initiative designed to provide not-for-profit agencies access to comprehensive, current, and relevant data about their own communities. With such high demand for funding and a lack of documentation on the strength and needs of Campbell River specifically, CRCF funded its first Vital Signs project in 2016. Data gathering, interviews, and identification of active community partners helped provide perspective and an understanding of what had been achieved, as well as current and projected needs for the greater Campbell River community. Two years later, the 2018 Vital Signs publication helped provide further community information, plus the beginnings of trend identification when comparing data.

A diversity of organizations, including Rotary Club of Campbell River, Campbell River Kinsmen Club, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the City of Campbell River, have all found value in Vital Signs, as it offers an additional lens with which to view our community. While the financial support of CRCF is critical to many organizations, so too is the knowledge, experience, and network of CFC local community foundations. Vital Signs is just one example of CRCF’s extensive reach. Unfortunately, the proposed 2020 edition has been paused with the unexpected arrival of COVID-19. Not to be deterred, plans for a 2022 edition will incorporate new Canadian census data and, hopefully, give greater insight into current needs following the significant imprint of COVID-19.

As the global pandemic and its community-level impacts were being realized, Campbell River Community Foundation board members were acutely aware of how and where many local agencies providing frontline support, services, and outreach were suffering. Critical sources of funding and donations dwindled and/or were halted almost immediately as events and gatherings were cancelled, and economic uncertainty loomed. As a result, the CRCF refocused its efforts by initiating a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help fill the gaps for organizations that needed support in order to carry on their good work. Seeded by $30,000 from CRCF’s annual grants fund, an additional $180,000 from private donors, the Strathcona Regional District, and the City of Campbell River, plus another $75,000 provided by the federal government (Emergency Community Support Fund), the CRCF COVID-19 Task Force responded to significant and time-sensitive community needs.

As one of the COVID-19 Relief Fund recipients, Campbell River Hospice shared the following feedback with CRCF board members:

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Campbell River Hospice Society offered a plethora of services for individuals who were grieving, facing the end of life, and their caregivers. As a non-profit organization, we relied on generous donations from the community: many annual fundraisers, our Second to None Thrift Store, and our volunteer workforce. Once the pandemic hit everything changed. We had to cancel all our fundraisers, close our Second To None Thrift Store, and cease our volunteer program. Worst of all, we had to stop supporting clients face to face. This significantly impacted our clients, who relied on our support. The journey of grief and bereavement changed tremendously, with the pandemic adding multiple layers to the grieving process. As we developed a COVID-19 Crisis Survival Plan for the organization, something extraordinary was happening in our community. The Campbell River Community Foundation was gathering funding from the community to help our local non-profit organizations who were supporting our vulnerable population. Once they set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund, many of their volunteers reached out to make sure we were aware and offered to help us with our application. They made sure this process was easy and efficient to ensure we received our funding quickly.As a person who has been working in the non-profit field for 20 years, it was a truly extraordinary experience. We were immediately wrapped in support by our community, through the good work of the Campbell River Community Foundation. Because of the Campbell River Community Foundation and its supporters, we received the funding to continue operating for the next four months through the pandemic, which allowed us to focus on finding new and innovative ways to continue supporting our clients. The foundation also provided critical funding for us to develop palliative kits for both children and adults. These essential kits are available to provide information and guidance as we wait to be by their side again. We are grateful to have a strong community foundation that has dedicated volunteers and resources to find support when we need it most. Now we know we can face anything together!”

Like many other communities, Campbell River has a vibrant volunteer heartbeat. The vision and dreams of this community have made our community what it is today. Many of its finest moments have been the result of like-minded people identifying a need and working collaboratively to support our most vulnerable citizens, and continuing to build strength and resiliency amongst all citizens.

Through its past and current board members, donors, and community partners, Campbell River Community Foundation encourages its citizens to continue to dream big. They know we can all create something special that will last forever.




Category: Volume 2