The second oldest community foundation in Canada – the Victoria Foundation – celebrates its 75th anniversary!

(Victoria, BC) February 28, 2011 – From its beginning in 1936, in the midst of the Depression, the Victoria Foundation has grown from operating out of a soup kitchen called the Sunshine Inn to granting over $9.7 million in 2010. Now in its 75th year, the Foundation is the second oldest and sixth largest community foundation in Canada.

The Victoria Foundation continues to steward its donors, facilitate philanthropy, and invest in charitable organizations making a difference in a wide array of areas including: arts, culture and heritage; community services; education; environment; and health and recreation.

It all started with a $20 cheque forwarded by Foundation founder Burges Gadsden, on behalf of his mother, Fannie. Gadsden had a vision of creating a local permanent endowment fund that would pool donations and invest them, using the earnings to support long-term community needs. In the decades that have followed, the Foundation has shaped many aspects of our community. The Foundation’s first grants were made in 1969 to the Boys’ Club of Victoria, the Victoria Association of Community Living, and the Maritime Museum of BC.

“We have real reasons to celebrate this 75th anniversary milestone,” says Foundation CEO, Sandra Richardson. “The year ahead is full of exciting initiatives to celebrate our past, present and future and we encourage all of the amazing people who make up this community to join us in our celebrations. We’re also looking forward to unveiling a groundbreaking program later this fall that will change the future of philanthropy in Victoria.”

The Foundation has initiatives planned throughout the year to celebrate 75 Years and Counting. In particular, the Foundation invites you to an evening celebration on Saturday, June 11th at the Victoria Conference Centre. Global BC News Anchor Chris Gailus will emcee the evening, featuring an elegant dinner and keynote speaker Tim Brodhead, CEO of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. Brodhead will address philanthropy, social change, and the important work of community foundations like the Victoria Foundation. Following his presentation, Canadian comedian and political satirist Rick Mercer will take the stage for one hour, courtesy of Island Savings. Tickets are $200 each.

“They say laughter is the best medicine, and after the past few years of an economic downturn our community has an opportunity to come together and laugh. Island Savings is proud to present comedian Rick Mercer as the evening’s entertainment to celebrate the Victoria Foundation’s 75th anniversary,” says Island Savings President and CEO, Rod Dewar.

“Island Savings partnered with the Victoria Foundation because of our shared commitment to making the Islands an even better place to live: growing island families together. We’re proud to be part of the Victoria Foundation’s landmark anniversary.”

Visit the Foundation’s recently launched 75th anniversary website where you can view an interactive timeline and learn more about the Foundation – starting at the very beginning in 1936. You can also look over our plans for the year ahead.

There are a number of other events scheduled in honour of the milestone, including a 75 member team in the TC 10K on May 1st. Everyone is welcome to join the team that benefits one of the Foundation’s innovative programs – Every Step Counts – a running program for people experiencing barriers and challenges with housing, mental health, addiction, and other related issues. The program draws on the many long lasting benefits of running and teamwork to foster self-esteem, confidence, energy, and positive growth.

In honour of this year’s anniversary, the Foundation is involved in world premières with both Pacific Opera Victoria and the Victoria Symphony. Story Theatre Co. is in the midst of producing a play for schools about the value of volunteerism. The Victoria Film Festival was one of the first local organizations to salute the Foundation’s 75 Years and Counting, through the airing of 10 short films from its archives. Each short reflected and contemplated life in Victoria – from housing to arts to leadership – a salute to Victoria’s Vital Signs®, the Foundation’s annual community report card.

For more information, please contact:
Shannon Drew-Burrows
Director of Communications
The Victoria Foundation
Phone: 250.381.5532