Connected to Community
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.
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.