Chet Greason, email@example.com
The sixth annual Mayor’s Gala brought local philanthropists out to the Stratford Festival Theatre lobby on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 17.
At $125 a ticket, the swanky fundraiser for the Stratford Perth Community Foundation (SPCF) is one of the organization’s biggest events of the year.
Hors d’oeuvres were served by the Stratford Chef School and live musical entertainment was provided by three-piece band Strings and Traps, as well as two songs by Cynthia Dale and Barbara Fulton. A silent auction, which went for $20 a ticket and included such prizes as a $1,000 shopping spree at Swanson’s Jewellers, in-house meals prepared by private chefs, a Tiffany bracelet, and tickets to opening night of the Stratford Festival’s production of Hamlet, stood to bring in even more.
The Stratford Perth Community Foundation is different from other charities in that it doesn’t just filter money into needed programs; it invests it. Then, the revenue generated from those investments is directed to worthy organizations and projects. In this way, money donated gives in perpetuity, rather than as a one-shot deal.
Manager of marketing and outreach for the SPCF, Roxy Rae, said this year’s event was yet another sell-out, with over 300 tickets sold. Over the past five years the Mayor’s Gala has raised over $300,000, with last year’s alone raising $80,000.
“Tonight we’re looking to surpass that,” she said.
Mayor Dan Mathieson welcomed revellers to the soiree, thanking them for attending despite the chill in the January air outside. He said the SPCF is all about connecting projects that matter with people who care, and that the program is evidence that “We live in not only the best part of this country, but also the world.”
SPCF board chair Nancy Orr called the gala an “evening of elegance with social impact.”
She noted that 2015 was a year of growth for the SPCF, with a total of $115,000 being given out to 38 recipients; an addition to the organization’s already impressive total of $330,000 to 78 causes since it’s establishment.
“That’s something to feel good about,” Orr added.
New executive director Tracy Van Kalsbeek called the evening a “trial by fire.”
“I’ve only been here two weeks, and I’m already having a party!” she laughed. She also thanked the donors in attendance for their support.
One of those donors in attendance was Matt Staffen, who was there representing the Brain and Mind Matters Community Fund, a group that has raised $150,000 towards programs that support mental health and traumatic brain injuries. According to Staffen, it will be giving between $10,000 - $15,000 to the SPCF in 2015 to support initiatives like the Stratford Police Service’s bike helmet program, which provides area youth with needed helmets.
The mission is an important one, he said, adding that his organization is not just there to raise funds, but awareness as well.
An additional event will be held in the spring to officially recognize the different grant and scholarship recipients. Normally, this would’ve been a part of the gala, but Rae said the decision was made to split the events.
“It got to be too much for one evening,” she said.
Stratford and area 2015 grant recipients
• Advanced Coronary Treatment Foundation - $3,500
Provide CPR & AED programs for local secondary schools
• Avon Trail - $1,000
Construct a boardwalk over swampy ground on the Avon Trail
• Brodhagen & District Chamber of Commerce - $5,000
Install a generator for the Brodhagen community centre
• Gallery Stratford - $5,400
Cross-cultural art program for English as Second Language students
• Junior Achievement London & District - $2,500
Increased availability of financial literacy programs in Perth County
• One Care Home and Community Support Services - $2,000
Enhanced training for volunteer Meals On Wheels drivers
• Optimism Place - $2,200
Extend services that assist clients to reconnect with the community
• Romeo Public School - $7,000
Support the design, purchase and installation of a community playground
• Shelterlink - $1,700
Mattress, appliance & computer upgrades for the youth shelter
• Stratford House of Blessing - $3,500
Purchase a larger freezer to support the Food Bank
• Stratford Public Library Foundation - $5,000
Replacement of PLOW van to allow library access to all
• Stratford Youth Centre - $2,500
Construction costs for repairs to the Youth Centre’s kitchen and common room area
• Stratford-Perth Humane Society - $5,000
Support for the construction of a new Animal Welfare Centre in Stratford
• Upper Thames River Conservation Authority - $5,257
Support tree plantings to provide environmental protection within UTRCA
• Victorian Order of Nurses- $500
Provide advanced wound-care education for VON staff
• Wellspring Stratford Cancer Support Centre - $500
Provide volunteer training to support clients impacted by cancer
• YMCA for Stratford-Perth - $1,000
Support for Youth Leadership Development Project
• House of Blessing - Sports Bursary Program - $2,500
• Salvation Army Stratford – Hockey Bursary Program - $1,000
• Stratford Perth Community Foundation - $1,000
• Stratford Central Secondary School- $2,000
• Stratford Northwestern Secondary School - $1,600
• St. Michael’s Catholic Secondary School - $350
• Family Services Perth-Huron - $500
• Stratford General Hospital Foundation - $6,000
• Stratford Perth Community Foundation - $1,000
• United Way Perth-Huron - $1,000
• Community Living - $200
• Stratford Chefs School - $3,000