Quietly modest, a Yarmouth couple has worked steadily since 2008 with the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia to establish and grow a reserve that will hopefully continue to benefit others in the county for generations.
Peter and Mary Eldridge, co-chairs of the Yarmouth Area Community Fund, approached municipal councils in the early stages of the organization and received contributions towards its establishment.
Now the Fund is in a position to supplement some of what councils annually provide to local charities.
“We’ve had a couple of really good benefactors. Now Peter just goes out and tells people about the Fund and asks if they’d like to make a donation,” said Mary Eldridge.
The Fund’s total assets are now approximately $70,000.
“I’m hoping next year we’ll have about $100,000,” she said.
The Yarmouth Area Community Fund endowment is invested with all other community funds in the province under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia.
The Fund typically distributes at least 3.5 per cent annually to local charities. This year it is able to give five per cent because of a higher return on investments.
The organization also handles flow-through grants for benefactors who want to give money to a charity anonymously or to help promote the Fund.
In its first year, the organization distributed a total of $1,200 between HOPE, the VON and the Yarmouth Junior High Home and School association.
For Yarmouth’s 250th anniversary a flow-through grant of four $250 allotments was distributed, as well as four computers.
Other charities that have benefitted include the Gilles Boudreau Cancer Fund, Yarmouth Food Bank, Yarmouth Special Olympics, Salvation Army Yarmouth Corps, Friends of the Light and the YMCA.
The Fund established an education/scholarship fund last year and is working towards growing that.
This year approximately $3,000 will be distributed to community groups in need.
“In the next couple of months we’ll be asking for applications. This is the largest amount we’ve had so far to give,” said Mary Eldridge.
Meanwhile, the job of boosting the endowment base continues.
Non-profit groups who have funds in a low return GIC are encouraged to place it in the community fund to be managed.
“Our money returned 13 per cent the last two years,” she said. “Some people don’t like to do that because some of the organizations want to be able to access the capital, but if the focus is to preserve that then this is the way to do it.”
For those wanting to set up their own private foundation, placing their money in the Fund allows access to low cost management services.
Members of the Fund committee are also fostering youth involvement. Families, businesses and corporations are being encouraged to hold fundraisers and donate back to the community through the Fund.
Information about the organization has been placed at local funeral homes to provide details for memorial donations and bequests.
“We need more people involved and more funds,” said Peter Eldridge.
This is an initiative to help ensure the sustainability of the Yarmouth community well into the future. Everything goes in for perpetuity.”
“It’s our town and we want to see it survive,” added Mary.
For more information about the Yarmouth Area Community Fund email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (902) 742-5585.
The website for the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia is http://www.cfns.ca.
Mary and Peter Eldridge, along with other members of the Yarmouth Area Community Fund, have been fostering its growth since 2008.
Each year, investment returns on the endowment are distributed to charities in Yarmouth County.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO