The tea was flowing and spirits were high at our annual Donor Tea, held this past Tuesday, April 17 in celebration of the people who make everything the Victoria Foundation does for the community possible.
Each year our incredible donors gather at the beautiful Government House at the generous invitation of the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The Victoria Foundation-hosted event gives donors an opportunity to get together, meet one another, enjoy some tasty nibbles and hear about the past year at the Foundation, along with what’s in store for the year ahead.
Each year the opportunity is also taken to honour some inspirational community leaders.
The Victoria Leadership Award recognizes an organization that demonstrates both exemplary community leadership and a commitment to organizational excellence. The recipient organization also receives a grant to use as they wish from the Victoria Quality Council Legacy Fund.
This year, Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson presented the award to the Garth Homer Society, an organization that since 1977 has provided vital programming and services in Greater Victoria for adults with developmental disabilities. Working with individuals with multiple, complex disabilities and health support needs, the Garth Homer Society provides opportunities that enable them to make a life, a home and a place in the world.
Garth Homer Society board chair Lynn Pollock accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
Moving from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow, Sandra handed out the annual Victoria Foundation Loran Provincial Scholarship awards to two deserving Vancouver Island youth, selected from a pool of over 5,000 applicants. The scholarships, valued at $2,000 to be used at any accredited public university in Canada, honour students who demonstrate character, service and leadership, and who show an entrepreneurial spirit.
Emily Godfrey of Kwalikum Secondary School is a member of her school’s leadership team and is a volunteer firefighter and math and physics tutor. She founded and leads a local Rotary Interact Club, which organizes volunteering and fundraising initiatives of students. She also writes poetry, plays volleyball, works at a local co-op convenience store and works as a summer camp leader for her district.
Meghan Henry of Ladysmith Secondary School has trained with Canada’s National Ballet School and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and has been the lead in two productions. She is the president of the Interact Club, as well as vice-president of the student council. She is also involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), presenting at a university event promoting women in the field. She also volunteers at a thrift store and works as a cashier at a local coffee shop.
The Victoria Foundation was delighted to honour these two very deserving students.
Friend of the Foundation and local philanthropist Andrew Beckerman is invited each year to present his Longevity in Leadership award, recognizing leaders of community service. These are inspiring individuals who throughout their careers at non-profit organizations have provided a stable foundation for volunteers and staff to provide a continuum of services to many of our most vulnerable neighbours.
This year, Beckerman honoured Kim Dixon, who since 1995 has worked with the James Bay New Horizons Society, an activity centre in James Bay that provides accessible programs, services and volunteer opportunities to members and residents. As Executive Director, Kim’s philosophy has especially focused on seniors, facilitating their interests and appreciating their contributions to community.
In what turned out to be a surprise for all, Beckerman also presented a second award, this time to a startled and humbled Sandra Richardson, CEO of the Victoria Foundation since 2001. In his remarks, Beckerman honoured his five years of working with the Victoria Foundation and spoke to the critical part the Foundation plays in improving the quality of life across a broad spectrum of residents in Greater Victoria and beyond.
“The Victoria Foundation has helped me realize many of my out-of-the-ordinary philanthropic endeavours,” Beckerman said. “Under the long-term leadership of Sandra Richardson, the Foundation has flourished.”
From there, keynote speaker Bob Worth spoke to joys and learning opportunities to be found in volunteering after retirement. Bob is a Victoria Foundation past board member and a current fund holder, whose experience in investment has been invaluable to the Foundation and other organizations in the community, such as CanAssist and the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness.
“The Victoria Foundation is an integral part of the volunteer commitment and financial generosity alive and well in Greater Victoria,” Bob said. “My retirement and appreciation of the goodness in our community would have been far less rich without the opportunities the Foundation has provided.”
Following the awards and speeches, the crowd was treated to a rousing performance from a large group of students from the Canadian College of Performing Arts, who with great passion and enthusiasm performed medleys from 42nd Street and Ragtime. The performance was part of a celebration of the school’s 20th anniversary.
The college is owned by the Canadian Heritage Arts Society, a non-profit society which works tirelessly to raise funds from many sources to keep tuition low. The Victoria Foundation is proud to be a supporter of the committed, extraordinary young performing artists who train there.
The Victoria Foundation wishes to thank all who attended the event, and all our donors who for over 70 years now have helped us to invest in the people, ideas and activities that strengthen our community.