Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation

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New Fund celebrates woman who pursued her passions through all of life’s difficulties

June Evangeline Anne Horton (nee Ernest) was born in Surrey, England in 1924. As a child she survived yellow fever, jaundice and cerebral meningitis. While working at a publishing house in London, England, she met Edwin Horton, a Canadian soldier in the Signal Corps. Their courtship spanned the war years with many leaves spent on Ted’s motorcycle. They married in 1946 and June set sail for Canada as a War Bride. It would be 22 years before she saw England again. She began married life on a farm outside Glanworth, Ontario. Together, June and Edwin raised a family of nine children, made more difficult by losing their house to a fire in 1966 and the untimely death of Edwin in 1973. Mom continued on as a single parent, until her children were grown and started families of their own. She volunteered for many years at the Dearness Home, she reported local items for the Lambeth News and was a prolific correspondent who maintained friendships for over 70 years. She was an avid reader, gardener and nature lover. She was passionate about ballet, loved a glass of wine and a good laugh. She made a home for a succession of cherished dogs, often strays. Always active, she continued to swim up until her last summer. She passed on to her children and grandchildren, the love of learning and reading.  In her later years, while on a minimum pension, she could not turn down a request for donations, no matter the cause.  She gave what she could to the SPCA, Men’s Mission, World Wildlife, MS Society – you name it, she would write a cheque.  To carry on her giving nature, this fund is established with money from the sale of her family home and endowments will be made, in her name, to some of those same charitable organizations. Donations are always welcomed to this Fund.

The June Evangeline Anne Horton Fund was established to grant forever in the areas of ballet, animal welfare and kidney disease.

 ESCF100LogoFinal100 People Who Care’s

FIRST Grant provided

$9,500 to a local charity!


The winner was KCET’s Re-Wild The Family!

It was a packed house representing the 95 current members of the 100 People Who Care, and there was excitement in the air!

Tuesday evening six local charities made presentations to the 100 People Who Care – Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation chapter in hopes of being chosen for their first ever grant.

  1. Phil McNamee Charity Foundation: Trail accessible for visually impaired and mobility devices.
  2. YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin- Food Works: food security programs like ‘Good Food Box’
  3. YMCA St. Thomas- Elgin: Inclusive Camping Program- summer day camp for children with special needs
  4. Inn Out of the Cold St. Thomas Elgin: Crisis training for staff and volunteers and programs at their Drop In Center
  5. Kettle Creek Environmental Trust: “Re-Wild the Family”- 7 families a year (x 2 years) will receive a camping mentor and supplies.
  6. Elgin County Library: Maker/Innovator in Residence program and improvements to maker space and STEAM curriculum.

Each of the six presentations was asked to answer the question of how their proposed project addressed the grant criteria of “New, innovative projects that address local need”. All presentations were expertly delivered and inspiring! “It is our sincere hope that each of these projects receives the funding they require, and we encourage you to build direct relationships with these charities” said Amy Dale, ESCF Board and Grants Committee Member. “We will do our part to help get the word out by recording and sharing video presentations and look for new opportunities through our other Funds.” All videos will be posted on the ESCF website once edited.

There was certainly a theme to applications and presentations as the evening unfolded., and that was’ Our physical, mental, and social health depends on us being more active and being more connected to our environment and to our community’.

It was not surprising then to see who won the vote! Each paid up member of the 100 People Who Care donor circle had one vote.

And when those votes were tallied…. the winner was…… Kettle Creek Environmental Trust with their new project called “Re-Wild the Family”!

This funding will provide startup funds for a multi-year project that will work with 7 families each year who have never camped before and help them to build a meaningful connection with nature and the local natural treasures we have in Elgin County. Each family will receive camping equipment, free camp sites and a mentor who will support quality experiences and basic education of the natural world and how best to enjoy it!

Some clips from their presentation last night helpPicture1 explain the need for this project (as presented by Elizabeth Van Hooren of the Kettle Creek Environmental Trust):

“This is your modern family … 45% of Elgin St. Thomas residents reported to the Health Unit that they are not active at all…. Bored, unhealthy, disconnected … most believe they don’t have the means to get healthy … don’t have enough money to do organized sports or take a family vacation … so they remain status quo … indoors behind their screens.

Re-wild the family is innovative because it is not just a one off experience …

Inactive families who have never camped before because of lifestyle circumstances, immigration, or income are shown that an active lifestyle doesn’t mean an expensive lifestylePicture2

A family can camp for $37 a night … if they have the right gear

A small investment … and suddenly instead of families reporting inactivity … they discover the wild side

  • Bird watching
  • Hiking … there are countless hiking trails that can be access for free
  • Camping

Healthy Active Living….just getting outdoors can improve your health”

The Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation extends our CONGRATULATIONS to Kettle Creek Environmental Trust and a heartfelt thank you to all who submitted applications and presented last night! This was a wonderful way to learn more about what each of these charities sees as their upcoming priorities and the exciting potential in our community!

The next Grant Cycle for 100 People Who Care will be Spring, 2017. Watch for details and application deadlines on our website www.escf.ca.

June 2016 Grant. KKET

PHOTO Credit Emily Castelein:  Left to Right: Kelly Ruddock, ESCF Chair, Elizabeth VanHooren, KCET Secretary/Treasurer  and Catharine Sloan, KCET Marketing Director

Noah. 2016.montreal weight

This photo was from his competition in the Hershey Canadian Indoor Track and Field Championships in Montreal in Jr. Men’s 25lb Weight Throw and Jr. Men’s Shot Put. He won two national gold medals and continues to be the reigning Canadian Champion in these two events.

Noah also prepared to qualify for the Junior Olympics this year. In support of that goal, the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation provided support from three of our Funds- The Dennis Redman Memorial Scholarship Fund (Noah is also studying to be a firefighter), the Sweetgrass Fund and the 2001 London Alliance Canada Summer Games Fund.

In March he also won the silver medal in the Jr. Men’s 25lb Weight Throw and a bronze medal in the Jr. Men’s Shot Put at the Athletic Ontario Indoor BMJ Championships, and spent a week in Florida at the Athletics Ontario 2017 Canada Summer Games High Performance Training Camp.

He traveled to Edmonton in July to compete in the Canadian Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Go Noah!


A chance lunch date introduced Jean to Port Stanley where she purchased a home on the shore of her beloved Lake Erie.

Jean was a woman ahead of her time. She was interested in the environment and organic farming decades before it became part of the public dialogue. She was keenly interested in politics, in particular the enfranchisement of women and First Nations. Her gentle spirit was combined with a fierce intellect, impeccable manners, graciousness, determination and a wicked sense of humour.

Though Jean’s career as an RN inspired much of her work, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to ventures such as a family shelter, arts and crafts gallery, The Nellie McClung Academy- a residential girls’ school, and to create the products BellySling and SpineAlign.

Jean’s home was her sanctuary and she loved to sit and look at the lake and think. Her ruminations led to many initiatives, including the creation of a local think tank. She served on the board of many community organizations and was recognized with a Central Elgin Cultural Heritage award for her work in establishing the Stork Club Museum and Interpretive Centre.

Jean loved unconditionally and she created family wherever she was. Her loss continues to be felt by the many members of Jean’s families. Her favourite quote is attributed to her cousin, well known as a Canadian suffragette, Nellie McClung, “Never retract, never explain, never apologize – get the thing done and let them howl.”.

This fund will be used to empower, educate and support women; especially those interested in a future in the political arena.
At the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation everything we do is designed to help build more vibrant, healthy and resilient communities across Elgin County.

With the partnership of caring local people, we invest in community based solutions that create meaningful and lasting impacts.


Our first responders have our backs in times of emergency. Theirs are the faces and voices we depend on when we are at our most vulnerable.

Jill Foster and Shaun Taylor have dedicated their time and energy over the last two years to make sure that every first responder knows that someone has THEIR back as well.

Their campaign started with modest intentions, support of paramedic colleagues Stephanie Romano and Denise Laing,  and a pledge to print some t-shirts and donate the proceeds to programs that support first responder’s mental health initiatives. Very quickly news of their project spread and grew into an international call for support. They built a website with resource links, have sold mountains of merchandise through their online store and donated the proceeds- many tens of thousands of dollars – to those organizations who support first responder’s mental health.

Their website http://www.ivegotyourback911.com/ reads: “First Responders are twice as likely to suffer PTSD. There’s no need to suffer in silence. The help you need is here. This website offers resources and services for the First Responder community to understand the various steps of a PTSD program from managing a crisis through to implementing best practices into an existing program.”

“Our granting has supported many worthy programs from therapy dogs to front line suicide prevention initiatives like TEMA’s documentary ‘The other side of the hero. “says Jill Foster co-founder of #IVEGOTYOURBACK911. “We wanted to ensure we could continue to support these and other charities, and working with the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation allows us to take this to the next level. By establishing an endowment fund, the ESCF is now collecting online donations for this campaign and can provide charitable receipting for the generous gifts that are helping to provide many of these grants. We have the potential to make a bigger impact and a longer term impact.”

The #I’vegotyourback911 Fund has been established to support charities with a focus on first responder’s mental health, and builds a legacy that will continue granting each year in perpetuity.

The establishment of their Endowment fund ensures ongoing and annual support for the charities and organizations they are passionate about.

“We are honoured to manage this endowment fund on their behalf that will continue to support their annual granting” states ESCF ED Karen Laine.


To contribute to  this fund visit our donor page here

#IVEGOTYOURBACK911. Jill and Shaun


Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation launches ‘100 People Who Care’ initiative!


Looking for a fun, quickESCF100LogoFinal, and exciting way to make a positive impact in St. Thomas and across Elgin County? Members of the community now have the opportunity to become one of the ‘100 People Who Care’, a new donor circle being established by the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation.

“The donor circle model is not new to community foundations, and in fact much of what we do is similar nature to this initiative,” says Karen Laine, Executive Director. “What we love about the ‘100 People Who Care’ approach is that it is a great fit for the young and community-minded demographic.”

How does it work? The answer is simple: 100 People contribute $100 each. The Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation will collect the funds and provide charitable donation receipts. Subsequently, the ‘100 People Who Care’ membership will be invited to attend a special launch event on Wednesday, April 13th, at 7pm at the CASO Station in St. Thomas. There will be a short information session, Q&A, and time for casual networking. Representatives of local charities are welcome to attend to learn more about the initiative, and curious members of the public can come out to join the fun as well. A cash bar will be open with proceeds from the bar supporting the CASO Station.

Following this event, the project really ramps up! Once we have reached our 100 member pledges, local charities will be invited to submit brief funding proposals to the Foundation. A short list of charities will then be chosen to present project ideas to the ‘100 People Who Care’ at a special granting event. For this occasion, each charitable organization will have the opportunity to make a five-minute presentation to the membership to pitch what they would do with $10,000 to foster positive change in the Elgin-St. Thomas community. At the end of the evening, the 100 People Who Care will vote, and the winning charity will receive $10,000 that night!


The ‘100 People Who Care’ initiative and other similar efforts have popped up all over the world. Several neighbouring communities, such as London, have been early adopters of this model. With the support of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation, this terrific approach to rapid community-building is now coming to Elgin County and St. Thomas!

“I am very happy to be one of the founding members of the ‘100 People Who Care’ in our community,” comments Andrew Gunn, a member of the planning committee. “We have a lot of extremely talented people locally who are interested in supporting great causes, but may not have a lot of time to get involved with traditional service clubs. The ‘100 People Who Care’ approach solves this problem by offering a way to network with like-minded people, learn about charitable organizations in our community, and then make an immediate impact by supporting the best ideas.”

Download a pledge form, or Register for the April 13th event at http://www.escf.ca/leadership-initiatives/100-people-who-care/


As communities across Canada welcome Syrian refugees displaced from their homes, Elgin County volunteers are working to support the resettlement of privately sponsored refugee families in our own community.

St. Thomas-Elgin has a long history of private refugee sponsorship and is well-prepared to welcome and integrate refugees into the community.  Several local churches, and agencies such as the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, have committed to sponsor families.

With the support of the YWCA Settlement Services and the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership, a coalition of volunteers called “Unite For Refugees” has formed and is committed to sharing resources and strengths to support the refugee families as they start their new life.  Training has been provided to the many caring individuals in how to address needs for newcomers. A website has also been developed www.uniteforrefugees.org  that has many valuable resources for the community.

Elgin County and the City of St Thomas could see up to ten families arriving in the community over the coming months. Unite for Refugees is preparing to help these families access housing and navigate the many challenges of resettling in Canada.

Several families have already arrived, including a family of 6 sponsored by the YWCA. “It’s been such a pleasure to meet this wonderful family and we are surprised and delighted how quickly they are settling in and making friends, especially the children who are already loving road hockey and skating!” said Shelley Harris of the YWCA.

Unite For Refugees has set a goal to fundraise and support up to three refugee families, and fundraising is well underway. In addition to all the non-financial supports that these volunteers provide, there are real costs that sponsors must address and the goal is to raise funds to support the first year of life here in Canada. The greatest expense is housing.  Unite For Refugees has developed a fundraising campaign that includes several events, and is actively soliciting donations and support.

In support of local efforts the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation has established the ‘Elgin Welcome Fund’ and is accepting donations that will grant to charities providing support for refugees settling in Elgin County. An initial contribution of $1,000 from Kathy Collier/ESCF Board Member has established this Fund, and a very generous donation of $5,000 from Doug Tarry Homes had helped to grow this fund. “We are delighted to support these generous donors target their gifts where and when they are needed most” says Karen Laine, Executive Director of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation. “There is such an outpouring of community support across Elgin County to help these families who have been through so much. It certainly warms my heart and we hope to see this fund grow with the generosity of other community members“. This new fund will provide charitable receipts for any donation of $10 or more.

Kathy Collier, Shelley Harris and Doug Tarry Homes staff.2

Photo: Shelley Harris/YWCA, Kathy Collier and the staff/Board of Doug Tarry Homes

“Unite For Refugees is excited to join communities across Canada in welcoming our Syrian neighbours and helping them build a new life after suffering unimaginable hardships,” says Shelley Harris, one of the organizers of Unite for Refugees. “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation in our efforts and for the generous support already received from many in our local community.”

Upcoming fundraising events to look for:

  • Taste of Syria: Sample food and learn about Syrian culture from a guest speaker(s). The committee is looking for volunteers interested in helping out with this spring event. Contact Rachel at the YWCA for details.
  • Rock’n for Refugees: June 18th, 2016. A family event with 50’s and 60’s music provided by Frankie and the Fairlanes’. Stay tuned for ticket details.

To contribute to this campaign to support refugee family resettlement in Elgin County, charitable receipts will be provided with donations to:

Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation’s

Elgin Welcome Fund

Donate Now


Or, to the Unite For Refugees Fund

  • Mail chq to YWCA St. Thomas–Elgin, 16 Mary St., St. Thomas, ON N5P 2S3.


2015 Community Fund Grant to Shedden Library

Community Fund Grant to support the Shedden Library Fundraising Campaign

There are young people selling cupcakes door to door, and big applications being written to provincial and national funders and everything in between! The fundraising campaign to build a new home for the Shedden Library is well underway and it is truly a community effort.

“Our library is an important heart of our community” says Cathy Bishop, Southwold Library Committee Chair, “but our library is simply busting at the seams and need more space.”

Volunteers from the Rosy Rhubarb Library Committee have taken on the task of fundraising for the new Southwold Library location. The plan is to build a new 3500 sq. foot addition to the Keystone Complex to become the new home of the Shedden Library. Plans are to break ground some time in 2016, but there is much work to be done before that happens so the community has rolled up their sleeves and started the momentous task of fundraising.

There is excitement around what that larger space will mean to this library and the range and breadth of programing and initiatives that could be hosted there.  Says Mayor Grant Jones “The Keystone Complex is a local hub and I can imagine when families have one child in soccer practice another could be taking advantage of library programs and resources”.

It is that kind of vision and community spirit that inspired the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation to grant to this campaign. “We have two grants to support this campaign” said Past Board Chair Shawn Jackson of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation, “One from the Bud and Melba Marr Fund and another $2,500 from our Community Fund- an unrestricted Fund that the Board has authority to allocate each year. Any charity in Elgin County is eligible to receive a grant from the Community Fund, and each year the deadline for applications is September 30th.

“The Community Fund allows us to respond to emerging need and innovation” says Karen Laine, Executive Director of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation, “It is one of our 29 Funds currently held at the ESCF.” To date the ESCF has granted over $670,000 to local and regional charities.

To contribute to the Shedden Library campaign contact: Keith Orchard at 519-764-2600 or the Township of Southwold municipal office at 519-769-2010.


Photo #1.

Left to Right:

Mayor Grant Jones, Kim Grogan – Treasurer Township of Southwold, Keith Orchard – Rosy Rhubarb Library Fundraising Committee, Shawn Jackson- Past Chair Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation, Councillor Gayle Bogart, Cathy Bishop – Southwold Library Committee Chair

Shedden Library Plan

Elgin Railway Museum logo

Elgin County Railway Museum establishes a Managed Fund

with the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation

A new Managed Fund is being celebrated at the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.

“Our Full-Steam Ahead – Phase 1 Capital Restoration fundraising campaign is building momentum,” says Dawn Miskelly, Elgin County Railway Museum’s Executive Director, “One of the most important projects in our restoration plan is replacement of the building’s 52,000 square foot, century-old roof.  Since this is a sizeable project, we were looking at responsible investment options for these funds as they accumulate during the campaign.  A Managed Fund with the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation seemed like the perfect fit for us.”

“The Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation’s primary service is Endowment Funds- those funds that are held for the community into perpetuity” says Karen Laine, Executive Director, “however we provide many other services and leadership initiatives to support local charities and community resilience. One of these services is our Managed Funds – available to any Elgin County charity. “

Managed Funds are primarily established in support of large capital campaigns and fundraising initiatives, where there may be many months or years of fundraising required in order to complete a project. The ESCF will manage and invest those funds to maximize returns, allowing local charities to focus their efforts on their fundraising and marketing of their campaign.  The Elgin County Railway Museum has invested $91,000 of funds they have raised during their “Full Steam Ahead” capital campaign into their Managed Fund with the ESCF.  The funds will be leveraged as matching funds in future grant applications to replace the deteriorated roof of their heritage building.  Donors interested in contributing to this Fund, can do so directly through the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation or their website.

The Elgin County Railway Museum (ECRM), a member of both the Ontario and Canadian Museum Associations, has been operating for 26 years out of the century-old Michigan Central Railroad Locomotive Shops in the heart of St. Thomas. It is a working museum with volunteers performing building and rail equipment maintenance and restoration, collections accessioning, and model railway construction. With a collection of over 3,000 railway artifacts, the Museum welcomes more than 7,000 guests each year, and presents cultural events such as Railway Adventure Day, Railway Nostalgia Weekend, and a Day Out With Thomas. The organization’s 115 members, over 50 active volunteers, and Executive Director are dedicated to helping the organization grow and keep the memory of the railway alive.

For more information on the Elgin County Railway Museum’s fundraising initiatives- contact Dawn Miskelly, Executive Director at 519-637-6284, or dawnm@ecrm5700.org

For more information on the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation and their services- contact Karen Laine, Executive Director at 519-637-8230, or klaine@escf.ca

Signing Railway Museum Managed Fund Agreement

Photo: Signing the agreement to establish the Elgin County Railway Museum Managed Fund of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.

From Left/Back Row: Guy Moore- Elgin County Railway Museum Treasurer, Dawn Miskelly- Elgin County Railway Museum Executive Director, Wayne Kentner- Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation Treasurer, Karen Laine- Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation Executive Director.

Front Row: Shawn Jackson- Past Chair, Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.

Elevated Park Project picnic

(From recent Elevated Park Project newsletter:)
“Your Elevated Park project is alive and well

You’ve been reading about us a lot in local media recently.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation awarded us a grant to undertake a Management Master Plan. The winning proposal came from Peter J. Smith Company of Fort Erie, Ontario. As you read this, they are hard at work researching a full business and project plan for the conversion of the MCR bridge over Kettle Creek into what we expect to be Canada’s first Elevated Park.

Mark Your Calendars: the first full public consultation for the Master Plan will take place on Wednesday, Sept 30 at the CASO Station. This is your opportunity to give us your very best ideas of what the park should look like. More info soon.”

In support of their fundraising campaign, the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation is now accepting online donations to this community project.

Click our Donate Now button, or follow this direct link to donate.