February 2021 Newsletter

Inside:What’s in a Name? Our commitment to helping!Helping Huron Business Grow: John Marshall makes the first donation to the Huron Entrepreneur FundFunding opportunities: South Huron Vitality Fund and Canada Healthy Communities InitiativeVital conversations about building back better
 A Message from the Chair, Deb Gill
“What’s in a name? / That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet/”

What’s in a name? A lot! Identity, history, connection, community. Knowing how important a name is, the Board spent many months discussing the idea of changing our name.
The Grand Bend name serves to remind us that the Foundation was created by a group of far-sighted people who served on the village council at the time of municipal amalgamation. They wanted to ensure that the money from the sale of the Grand Bend PUC would benefit the community for many years in the future.
Starting with $1.5 million, the Foundation has grown to more than $3 million in permanent endowments, and more importantly, has granted almost $2 million to local charities.
The Foundation has also provided leadership to major initiatives in the Grand Bend community. First was the Main Beach enhancement project, including the ever-popular boardwalk, dune grass plantings, and playground. Next the Foundation helped create the Rotary Community Stage. It is now a beloved Grand Bend tradition to gather on the beach, watch the sunset spread across the sky, and listen to top musical acts. We have funded a wide variety of other organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, food banks, health facilities, schools, sports clubs, camps, and environmental groups.
Several years ago, the Grand Bend Foundation became the administrative home to several new funds focused on the municipality of South Huron, thanks to the efforts of director Tom Prout. Tom saw the potential to develop community funds throughout Huron County, which is one of the few communities in Canada without access to a community foundation.
To reach out effectively to communities in Huron County, we needed to signal that we were open to serving the wider region. After careful consideration, we chose a name that wasn’t geographically specific but spoke to all people living on the Lake Huron coast.
The Grand Bend funds remain the core of our Foundation, and our commitment to serving the Grand Bend area, in accordance with our donors’ wishes, is a constant. Now however, we are excited to be working with communities elsewhere in Huron County to help make great things happen there too.

Huron Entrepreneur Fund Launched with Gift from
John Marshall

The Huron Entrepreneur Fund (HEF) is a new model for the Foundation: the capital raised from donors will be invested in Community Futures Huron, to support entrepreneurship in the County. The revenue from that investment will provide grants to local charities. John Marshall, Chair of the Huron County Economic Development Corporation, is the inaugural donor to the new Fund.

Q. Tell me a bit about your career path and connection to Huron County.
A. I grew up on a farm near Chatham Ontario, but the only thing I really liked about farming was the machinery! Right out of school I joined International Harvester as a field rep, and my territory included Huron County. Later I joined Champion Road Machinery as Product Manager, which brought me back to Huron County. Eventually I left the machinery business and with a partner started buying companies in Ontario. We bought our first business in 1989 and sold our last one in 2015 and I “retired” in Bayfield. Now I work with clients helping them buy, sell or grow companies and I’m also chair of the Huron County Economic Development Board.
Q. So what inspired HEF?
A. One of things I remember so vividly from when I was starting to buy companies is that when it came to finding financing, banks wouldn’t give me the time of day! I told myself that if I ever had a chance to help young people find some capital to get into business, I’d do it. Another member of the HEF team, Martin Vanderloo, tells the story of when he was starting his commodities business. Nobody would give him funding and he struggled. Then someone he barely knew offered to help him get going, on the understanding that he’d help the next guy. Two other team members, Jim Lynn and John Kiser, both from the banking community, very much value the entrepreneurial spirit and they know how difficult traditional financing can be for new business . So, I guess you could say it’s a labor of love for all of us.
Q. You’ve done more than give your time to lead the charge: you’ve made a $10,000 contribution. Why?
A. One of the things I learned early on about fundraising is that if you’re going out to tell people that a project is important and that they should support it, you must show it’s important to you too. Also, I wanted the fund to be “in business” from the first day and have no delay in our ability to react to an opportunity.   
Q. What will HEF mean to the people of Huron County?
A. Many businesses don’t need a million dollars to get started or to take their next growth step: often a loan of $10,000 or $20,000 can be life changing for a new business. That’s what HEF will do. It can do a lot of good for a lot of new businesses.  For donors, HEF is an opportunity to give in Huron, knowing the money will stay in Huron and grow businesses in Huron. That’s a good philanthropic “investment” in my view. 

Current Funding Opportunities
The federal government’s Canada Health Communities Initiative is a small grant program focused on supporting organizations that are developing creative solutions to enable people to connect and access public spaces safely while still respecting public health measures. In the first phase of the program, organizations can apply until March 9, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. PST. A second application period will start in May 2021. For more information, click here.

The South Huron Vitality Fund is open for applications, with a deadline of April 1. Also a small grant program, this one supports community activities and projects in the Municipality of South Huron. For more information, click here.
What’s next? The Foundation’s regular granting program, with a deadline of September 30. It’s never to early to start planning! Please talk to us about your ideas before completing an application.

Building Back Better: Vital Conversations in our Communities On January 27, more than 50 community leaders gathered via Zoom to discuss the challenges facing the Grand Bend area as we emerge from COVID-19, and to explore potential solutions and opportunities. It was a lively and thought-provoking event, expertly moderated by Roz Elliott of Local One the Staysh. The outstanding panellists laid out a bold vision and participants built on their ideas in breakout rooms. Among the suggestions that emerged:Advocate for Basic IncomeAdvocate for Living WageReduce mental health stigmaEncourage people to access services and promote the use of 211Encourage density in new developmentsAddress homelessnessPromote the right to food and housingExpand community care coordinationDevelop volunteer community connectorsAddress food insecurityCreate a community centre for Grand BendSustain safe opportunities for activity and social interaction during the pandemicProtect biodiversity in our areaEncourage farming practices compatible with the preservation of biodiversityPlant trees and reduce deforestationOn March 10, a similar event will be held in South Huron, organized by the South Huron Community Fund Committee. To learn more and register to be part of this vital conversation, click here.
The Foundation is committed to providing leadership as our communities build back better together. If you’d like to be involved in future meetings and initiatives, contact us at sunsetcommunityfoundation@gmail.com.
VVE Brightens a Cold February
The Sunset Community Foundations Virtual Valentine’s Eve, held on February 13, brought together 120 people from across the Grand Bend region for a chocolate tasting led by Kristene Steed of Rheo Thompson Candies in Stratford, and two games of romance-themed bingo. The event was the brainchild of Nan Brooks, Chair of the Foundation’s Relationship Development Committee. Chocolates and bingo cards, beautifully packaged in Valentine gift bags, were hand-delivered by Nan and Chair Deb Gill. The lucky bingo winners each received a one-pound box of delicious Rheo Thompson chocolates. “It’s so much fun to do something together when we’re apart,” says Nan. “And it’s a great way to build awareness of the Foundation as well.”