Con­nected to Com­mu­nity

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Sher­brooke, Len­noxville

Ear­lier in the win­ter, the Bor­ough of Len­noxville gave out its Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment Awards, in­clud­ing the pres­ti­gious Don­ald Patrick Award for com­mu­nity vol­un­teer­ing. This year, that award was pre­sented to Len­noxville res­i­dent Jane Loiselle.

A res­i­dent of Sher­brooke for many years be­fore mov­ing to Len­noxville about eight years ago, Ms. Loiselle has vol­un­teered for sev­eral cul­tural, sports and ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions over the years, never hes­i­tat­ing to take the helm of them when needed, as she did at the Town­ship­pers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, the Len­noxville Art Group, and the Town­ship­pers Re­search and Cul­tural Foun­da­tion.

When Len­noxville res­i­dents started wor­ry­ing about los­ing lo­cal Bor­ough ser­vices just a few years ago, she helped found the Len­noxville Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion. “Sher­brooke wanted to change the sit­u­a­tion in the Bor­oughs, so we had to stand up; we don’t want to lose our small com­mu­nity. It’s a nice feel­ing to go into your lo­cal Town Hall and get in­for­ma­tion, or ask ques­tions,” ex­plained Ms. Loiselle in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

We met in the cramped and tiny of­fice of the Town­ship­pers Re­search and Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, nes­tled deep in the heart of the Mar­guerite Knapp Build­ing, a space gra­ciously do­nated to the Foun­da­tion by the Town­ship­pers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. “We’ll be giv­ing away grants in Ma­gog on April 9th. Some will be go­ing to some Stanstead or­ga­ni­za­tions, like Phelps Helps and the CAB’s Af­ter the Rain­bow pro­gram,” said Ms. Loiselle, who continues to be the pres­i­dent of the Town­ship­pers Re­search and Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, a com­mu­ni­ty­based foun­da­tion that has given over one mil­lion dol­lars to com­mu­nity groups and projects all over the East­ern Town­ships since it was founded twenty-six years ago. “We give the grants away once a year and it’s great. We get to hear all about the projects and to meet the people run­ning those projects,” she added.

The Town­ship­pers Re­search and Cul­tural Foun­da­tion gives out about $38,000 an­nu­ally to projects that fall un­der five cat­e­gories: Youth and Ed­u­ca­tion; Her­itage and Lit­er­acy; Health and So­cial Ser­vices; Se­niors; and the Arts. “We used to be in­volved with just Arts and Cul­ture, but now we sup­port projects also in­volved with is­sues like men­tal health, the en­vi­ron­ment and ed­u­ca­tion. We re­cently had a re­quest from the

St. Fran­cis Val­ley Nat­u­ral­ists Club to bring en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams into schools. Pro­grams like that al­ways need a lit­tle money to get go­ing,” said Ms. Loiselle.

An­other way that the Foun­da­tion sup­ports lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions is by ‘part­ner­ing’ with them. “We can have part­ner­ships with or­ga­ni­za­tions that fit our grant cri­te­ria, like Phelps Helps or Stu­dio Ge­orgeville, so we can is­sue tax re­ceipts for them or give them letters of sup­port. That al­lows them to ask larger or­ga­ni­za­tions for money. It’s very dif­fi­cult to get a char­i­ta­ble tax num­ber these days.”

With a good chunk of their foun­da­tion money com­ing from hun­dreds of small donors an­nu­ally, it truly is a Foun­da­tion ‘by the people, for the people’. “We re­ally are a very, very grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion. We don’t have the re­sources or money to put on big fundrais­ing events, so we send out letters and do phone-a-thons. We have

many small donors and many loyal donors,” said the pres­i­dent.

Even when donors move away, they some­times con­tinue to do­nate to the Foun­da­tion. “When one cou­ple moved to On­tario, they told us they were think­ing about con­tin­u­ing to give us money for a few years. But when the hus­band, an ac­coun­tant, looked at our fi­nan­cial records, he was very im­pressed. He gave us a big do­na­tion be­cause of that and we took it as a com­pli­ment be­cause he had done his home­work. We’re proud that we are good stew­ards of this money. We’re very fru­gal and we keep costs down. The Board mem­bers don’t even charge for trav­el­ling. We might get a cup of cof­fee!”

Al­though the donors are loyal, sus­tain­ing the do­na­tions and find­ing new ones is the Foun­da­tion’s big­gest chal­lenge. “So many or­ga­ni­za­tions are look­ing for money; there is donor fa­tigue. And many of our donors are se­niors now, on fixed in­comes. So we’re very care­ful when we call; if there’s any hes­i­ta­tion when we ask for a do­na­tion, we don’t push.”

Re­turn­ing to the topic of com­mu­nity in­volve­ment, Ms. Loiselle also spoke about grow­ing up in Water­ville. “When you grow up in a small town, it’s nat­u­ral to get in­volved with the Girl Guides, church sup­pers, de­liv­er­ing bas­kets to se­niors. You start young, you see people pitch­ing in. My dad used to deliver meals-onwheels and, when he was older, he re­ceived the ser­vice. You learn that if you want some­thing done, you should step up and do it. But what I like most about vol­un­teer­ing is the sense that I’m giv­ing some­thing back to my com­mu­nity.”

To find out more about the Town­ship­pers Re­search and Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, visit their web­site at town­ship­pers­foun­da­tion.ca.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Jane Loiselle, the re­cent re­cip­i­ent of the Don­ald Patrick Award who is also the pres­i­dent of the Town­ships Re­search & Cul­tural Foun­da­tion, poses in front of an art­work cre­ated by the Af­ter the Rain­bow group from Stanstead, one of many or­ga­ni­za­tions sup­ported by the Foun­da­tion.

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