In its 13 years of existence, the Burns Lake and District Community Foundation Society (BLDCFS) has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local group projects.
Foundation president Bernice Magee spoke with Lakes District News on Sept. 10 on the occasion of September being declared Community Foundations Month by the province of British Columbia.
Magee launched and registered the foundation in 2006, during her tenure as mayor of Burns Lake from 2002-2011.
“I was really interested in the whole idea of a community foundation. When I met with representatives from the Prince George Community Foundation, the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) came out with a program of matching initial contributions,” she said.
The group started out with $25,000 from the Burns Lake Community Forest, which was matched by the NDIT and also by the Vancouver Community Foundation.
“Now we’re under the umbrella of the Prince George Community Foundation. That makes it easier for building capacity.”
Since 2006 the BLDCFS has distributed more than $225,000 to various community projects.
“It grows through donations. It can’t grow through interest because we spend the interest and it is put back into the community,” she said.
The foundation accepts applications from organized groups for projects related to youth, health, education, arts and culture, and others. its contributions have gone to children or youth-focused projects. Magee estimates that the organization helps fund 10-15 projects per year, depending on how many applications are received.
Some of the many groups it has helped include the Lakes District Fall Fair, Lakes Literacy, the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association and the Burns Lake Public Library.
Last year it received $100,000 from RioTinto Alcan for the purpose of helping out members of the community negatively affected by the 2018 wildfires. Some of the recipients of that funding were the Ootsa Lake Bible Camp, Lakes District Family Enhancement Society, and Southside Health and Wellness.
The BLDCFS also funds on an annual basis two scholarships at Lakes District Secondary School, which are awarded to well-rounded students who plan to enroll in post-secondary schooling.
All donations to the foundation are charitable gifts and qualify for tax receipts.
While Magee is proud of what the BLDCFS has accomplished for the community, she remembers the global financial crisis of 2008 as a challenging year for the foundation.
“We rely on interest being earned on the principal. In 2008 when everything went down we didn’t have money to spend.”
Looking ahead, Magee hopes the foundation’s current principal of $750,000 can grow to around $1 million.
“The fact that we’ve been able to put over $225,000 back into community projects is a pretty big feat in itself. We are 11 volunteers that give freely of our time to administer this fund.”
For more information on the foundation, visit its website at http://blcommunityfoundation.org.