This column was jointly submitted by the Coquitlam Foundation, the Port Coquitlam Community Foundation and the Port Moody Foundation to mark Community Foundations Month in British Columbia...
American psychologist William James said more than a century ago that humans “are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
It’s an apt concept to keep in mind as British Columbians mark Community Foundations Month in September — a time when the province’s 52 foundations are promoting community philanthropy and empowerment by attempting not only to tap into those intrinsic human connections but also to strengthen them.
This is certainly the theme being adopted by the three foundations in the Tri-Cities: the Port Moody Foundation (PMF), the Coquitlam Foundation (CF), and the Port Coquitlam Community Foundation (PCCF). While run by separate and independent boards that embrace unique mandates, the foundations are united in their commitment to make each of their cities a better place by connecting those who can help with those who need help.
PMF has also discovered that encouraging day-to-day connections between people can help improve a community. That’s why it ramped up its outreach efforts in 2016 by launching the Say “Hello” PoMo campaign, encouraging residents to connect in the streets.
The PoMo Foundation reasoned that, regardless of one’s mother tongue, everyone knows the word “hello,” so promoting the greeting was a good way to combat isolation and encourage inclusion.
PMF expanded the campaign in May with the introduction of a new cyber social infrastructure, called Smart Connections, which features Facebook groups dedicated to neighbourhoods, business networks and general-interest groups — including one for dog owners, which has proven to be its most popular page.
The bread-and-butter work of all three foundations is the management of funds and the distribution of grants and awards to organizations and individuals. For PCCF, this means connecting people and businesses with charities doing innovative work so the lives of everyone in the community can be enhanced.
PCCF takes an expansive and innovative approach to the way in which funds are granted, supporting a wide range of programs and projects, including those that may not be commonly supported by other philanthropic entities.
And in Coquitlam, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, CF has embraced a mission to encourage and support creative, targeted philanthropy that builds a vibrant, sustainable and healthy community. CF’s foundation-managed funds connect students and non-profit organizations with a means to improve themselves, thereby building a stronger community.
CF also facilitates the establishment of donor-advised funds that allow caring citizens to make long-lasting connections between their personal philanthropic desires and those in need.
None of this would be possible without the volunteers who devote their time and energy to the foundations, and without the generous individuals and businesses whose financial contributions allow the foundations to connect those who can help with those who need help. They are certainly the “hearts in the heart of the community” that one Community Foundations Month slogan describes.
So what can the average citizen do to help? Most importantly, the foundations have an ongoing need for financial support. This is why the major theme of Community Foundations Month is “Give Where You Live.” So, please donate. And if you can’t do that, volunteer or attend a foundation event. After all, as the old adage goes, “charity begins at home.”