2019 Donor Tea honours leaders of today and tomorrow

The Victoria Foundation’s annual Donor Tea event, recently held at Government House, is a way for our staff and board to thank the donors who make the work we do possible, and it’s an opportunity for our supporters to gather, meet one another, catch up, and celebrate their impact on the community.

And, of course, enjoy some tea and delicious nibbles.

The event is also a chance to recognize some of the best and brightest leaders in our community, both those just starting out and those inspiring the younger generations through their hard work and commitment.

The 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.

Community Foundations of Canada President Ian Bird

For 2019, the award was presented to artsREACH, an organization committed to providing high-quality visual and performing arts training to young children, regardless of their financial means. They deliver free workshops, taught by professional artists, actors and dancers, in public elementary schools identified as having a high percentage of low-income families.

Board Treasurer Whitey Mitchell accepted the award on behalf of artsREACH.

From there focus was shifted to the leaders of tomorrow, with the presentation of the 2019 Victoria Foundation Loran Provincial Scholarship awards. These $2,000 awards are handed out annually to students who demonstrate character, service and leadership; who show personal integrity, commitment to service and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Jaylynn Barth of Brentwood College in Mill Bay splits her time between Istanbul and Vancouver Island and is deeply involved with her school community, as president of the Debate Club and a member of the Model UN, Academic Council and Arts Council. Jaylynn aspires to be a lawyer.

Tessa Rehill of St. Michaels University School has already lived in six different countries in her young life, and even attended the American Cooperative School of Tunis in Tunisia from 2013-17. Now in Victoria, Tessa takes an active role in her school community as head of Timmis House and as a member of the Model UN, the radio station and the swim team. Tessa plans to pursue a degree in biomedical sciences.

The Victoria Foundation was thrilled to honour these two outstanding young citizens.

Next, Sandra invited friend of the Foundation and loyal donor Andrew Beckerman to the stage to present his Longevity in Leadership Award, which recognizes long-time leaders of community service.

Normally reserved for those with at least 10 years of service to our community, this year Andrew made an exception in order to honour Don Evans of Our Place Society, whose work to establish a therapeutic recovery community in View Royal has “defied the tempo of time,” Andrew said.

Sari Alesh, a professional violinist and Syrian refugee who has made Victoria his home, performed for the crowd.

“Through my own volunteer work, I come in contact with many people struggling to deal with the challenges and trauma of their past,” said Andrew in his remarks. “I applaud Don and his team at Our Place for promoting this new methodology … to allow benefit to people struggling to succeed, however they self-define that success.”

Community Foundations of Canada President Ian Bird provided the keynote speech for the event, providing insights into the direction the national organization plans to head in and speaking to how the Victoria Foundation is looked to by community foundations across the country as a leader. Ian also spoke to the upcoming Community Foundations of Canada All In 2019 conference coming to Victoria on June 6.

Following the awards and speeches, all were treated to a performance by Sari Alesh, a professional violinist and Syrian refugee who has made Victoria his home. Sari performed a selection of popular tunes, including a number from the Disney movie Moana, along with an Arabic pop song.

We thank all who attended the event and for your continued support of the Victoria Foundation, as we work toward strengthening the wellbeing of our community. We couldn’t do it without you.

Award recipients and presenters Jaylynn Barth (back row left), Don Evans, Ian Bird, Whitey Mitchell, Tessa Rehill, Sandra Richardson (left front), Andrew Beckerman and Dr. Grace Wong Sneddon.