Community foundations have been around the West Kootenay Boundary for over 15 years, providing support and driving leadership wherever they are found.
Nelson has the Osprey Foundation, and Greater Trail the LeRoi Foundation but not as many Castlegarians seem to be aware of their own foundation.
The Community Foundation of Castlegar and District was incorporated in 2012 and received charitable status in 2013.
Typically, a foundation will receive donations from local citizens who wish to give back or leave a permanent legacy in their hometown. The capital is never touched but provides a perpetual source of income to meet community needs.
Applications for funds are received annually, reviewed, and successful applicants are notified.
The foundation’s mission statement is to improve the quality of life in Castlegar and district by developing permanent endowments, making responsible grants, and inspiring leadership.
Since its inception, the foundation has delivered sums to a handful of local groups, including the Castlegar and District Community Services Society, Blueberry Creek Community School Society and Kootenay Family Place.
The last grants were handed out last June and interim president Brian Miller said the next round of grant-giving will occur this spring.
Anyone can become involved with the foundation. Miller himself never thought he would be in his present position.
“I was working at the golf course at the time,” he said. “I heard about the foundation and talked with a friend of mine who was involved with the LeRoi Foundation in Trail.”
His interest grew and Miller was eventually a permanent face at meetings. He’s been involved since inception and is confident if more people were aware of the foundation they would donate and help out.
The foundation lists several ways to contribute: donate to the community fund, name the foundation in your will, leave a bequest or become a member. Memberships are $10 a year and allow you a say within the foundation.
Members may be elected to the board of directors, assist with committees and help steer the foundation’s direction.
All foundation board members are volunteers. Many hold full-time jobs, so their passion and commitment to the foundation is real.
“Not everyone involved with the foundation is retired,” Miller said. “Especially starting out, being a part of the foundation is a lot of work. I’m part-time at the golf course right now, but most of the board works full time, so it’s very difficult and we don’t have any paid staff at all.”
Their goal is to be recognized as a community champion that provides inclusive leadership and involvement for the betterment of the area.
“We don’t want to go out and bug people too much for money, but we give everything back and we’re a totally volunteer-owned organization. We put out our applications, scrutinize all the applicants, and give out as much as we can each year.”
To put things in perspective, Nelson’s Osprey Foundation, which amassed over $6 million by 2012, put over $200,000 into their community in one year alone. Osprey has been around for close to 15 years but provides a vision for the Community Foundation of Castlegar and District.
Late last year, past foundation president Bob Jackson approached city council seeking support, although no specific amount was mentioned.
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff says while nothing is concrete, it will be looked at during budget talks.
“Without a doubt in my mind [the foundation] is something we need in the community and it allows people to donate accordingly and will really benefit everyone,” he said.
Miller said the Community Foundation of Castlegar and District is still trying to get their name out but they are seeing interest pick up and more donations are flowing in.
Anyone interested in becoming a member, donating or just curious about the work the board does, can visit their website — currently under construction — at communityfoundationofcastlegar.org.
In addition to the people of Castlegar, the foundation is hoping to involve those in Areas I and J of the Regional District of Central Kootenay.