In 1998, a group of local citizens gathered for a potluck to discuss starting up a community foundation. Many regulatory hoops later, the Osprey Community Foundation was born in 2000.
Now, after 13 years, Nelson’s community foundation has reached a milestone. It has distributed over $1 million to community charities, scholarships and worthy causes since inception. From playgrounds to emergency dental care to arts productions to skateboard parks to hospital equipment — Osprey grants have enriched and sustained the Nelson area.
“This community has created an enduring legacy — a community nest egg that we can proudly pass on to our children,” says Osprey’s current chair Tom Murray.
Community foundations exist to strengthen their local communities. Money donated by those who can afford to give back is added to a growing, income-generating endowment that is never spent. Each year, earnings on the capital are distributed back to eligible community organizations.
“We like to compare it to an apple orchard,” says Murray. “Donors plant the trees, and the community reaps a new harvest of apples each year.”
The bulk of Osprey’s grants go to organizations that support seniors. That’s due to the generosity of one donor who preferred to be anonymous, but established a large fund named after her cat, Sheba.
As a result, the Seniors Coordinating Society this year received a $20,000 grant for its Home Help program. Friends of Nelson Elders received over $16,000 to fund programs such as library outreach and music therapy at Jubilee Manor and Mountain Lakes. Smaller grants went to Cyber Seniors, the program that makes sure that age is not a barrier to staying connected, the Concerts in Care program that brings performances by professional musicians to our long term care facilities, and SEEDS, the volunteer group that grows and distributes organic produce for low-income seniors and local food banks.
The Sheba Fund also provides funding for the new Age Friendly Community initiative, which receives additional support from Columbia Basin Trust. Spearheaded by Nelson CARES, this initiative has brought together the many local organizations and agencies that work with seniors, plus local government representatives. They’ve identified where Osprey grants could have the biggest impact, and the first project — a central hub of information and coordination for seniors and organizations that provide seniors’ services — will be up and running in November.
Osprey is a public foundation, created in 2000 to serve residents of Nelson and RDCK Areas E and F. It also administers funds for North Kootenay Lake, Slocan Valley and Salmo Valley. The total of its permanent endowed funds now exceeds $6 million, generating income that flows back to local registered charities and scholarships in perpetuity. Osprey is governed by a volunteer board of directors, and is a member of Community Foundations of Canada. For further information, please go to ospreycommunityfoundation.ca or call 250-352-3643.