Mike Miles (left) is the chair of the Mission Community Foundation and Peter Robson is one of 11 directors of the board.

Mike Miles (left) is the chair of the Mission Community Foundation and Peter Robson is one of 11 directors of the board.

Foundation builds community

Mission Community Foundation helps students and community groups

Neighbours helping neighbours is one way to describe the work being done by Mission Community Foundation (MCF).

“We try to make a difference in the community by giving grants and scholarships to worthy causes,” said Mike Miles, MCF board chair.

Anyone can donate to one of MCF’s 80-plus funds, or create their own to leave a legacy.

“A lot of people come up with a start-up fund, but it doesn’t get capitalized until it reaches $10,000,” explained Peter Robson, a board director. “Only after it’s capitalized does it get dispersed.”

Some people contribute monthly, while others give a large lump sum or make a bequest in their will. The money entrusted to the foundation is invested and only the interest accrued is dispersed. The principle is never touched.

“The money that comes in stays in Mission,” added Robson, noting the non-profit organization uses less than two per cent of donations for administrative costs.

Since the MCF was created in 1987, it has distributed $1 million in scholarships to more than 875 students, and has given more than $433,000 in grants for community projects.

Currently, the foundation has $3.7 million in assets.

Every year Mission high school students benefit from scholarships and bursaries, and outstanding math and science middle school students are honoured. Recognizing students is one of the things MCF office manager Michelle Gauthier is most proud of.

“Anyone can apply for a bursary or scholarship,” she said, pointing out there are specific funds for certain areas of study.

For example, the Vic and Hilda Hollister Fun has scholarships for students pursuing studies in science and engineering; the Ralph Babuik Fund provides scholarships for candidates studying a career in the trades; and the Clint Lobb Shake and Shingle Industry Fund provides financial assistance to students in the aviation or forestry fields.

The Margaret Erskine Bursary Fund, created in 1988, is the foundation’s oldest fund. It provides financial support to students in the fields of athletics, education, music, the arts, or sciences.

Every year, the top math and science students in Grade 7 and 8 in the Mission School District are recognized for their achievement at the G.W. Cooke Awards.  The fund was established in 1992 by Bill and Shirley Walker, who were long-time friends of George Willoughby Cooke. According to MCF history, Cooke worked for many years on steamships and at the Herman sawmill, and extended many kindnesses to the Walkers, which they never forgot.

Friendship and kindness are also factors in receiving this award, said Gauthier, who notes school principals make recommendations on who should receive the award.

“The kids who win a G.W. Cooke award in middle school usually win one (bursary or scholarship) in high school,” she added.

Miles, who became involved after his son won a scholarship from MCF, said the foundation tries to keep in touch with local graduates.

“When we give scholarships to students, they give back,” said Miles. “We don’t want them to forget about us … It’s gratifying to see them succeed.”

“Some of these kids really blow us away,” said Robson, noting students who apply for scholarship are interviewed by the MCF board.

The board also reviews applications for various community grants. There are grants for arts, sports, and environmental causes, just to name a few, said Gauthier.

There are currently 11 board members at MCF. Each members serves a four-year term, which can be renewed, but the member must retire after eight years. A list of funds managed by MCF is available on its website. To make a donation, or for more information, visit missioncommunityfoundation.org or call 604-826-5322.