An Instrument For Every Child

A musical start to my day this morning. I attended the Community Builders’ Breakfast at Carmen’s sponsored by Volunteer Hamilton. The event opened with a highly entertaining ”American Idol” like performance by the Bishop Ryan High Express Choir. The Spec’s Howard Elliot followed with a timely keynote about the importance of volunteer perservance in creating positive community change.

I then hurried to King George elementary school on Gage N. to witness a very animated grade 1 group participating in an interactive musical performance lead capably by the Hamilton Pilharmonic Orchestra’s Neil Spalding. The kids were rivetted by the presentation and excited to be able to actually blow a french horn. The class is part of a Hamilton pilot project called “An Instrument For Every Child” based on the remarkably successful El Sistema program in Venezuela that uses music to help lift kids out of poverty. This very special partnership between the HPO and the public school board is made possible because of the tireless volunteer leadership of Astrid Hepner and the generous support of some anonymous donors.

Mac President Dr. Patrick Deane-Global Leadership Through Local Action

Just listened to new McMaster President Patrick Deane speak at  the Canadian Club about the importance of universities in an era of globalization. Dr. Deane delivered a powerful message about the need for McMaster to ground its global ambitions and perspective in practical experience and service right here in Hamilton. Really encouraging to know that McMaster’s leader is committed to working collaboratively with community partners on issues such as downtown renewal and poverty. I am also really excited that Dr. Deane will be joining the Board of Directors of Hamilton Community Foundation at our AGM in June.

Where you lay your head down at night matters

I heard an amazing statistic on CBC’s Metro Morning today.  Every child that has grown up in a Habitat for Humanity home in Toronto has graduated from high school and gone on to post-secondary education.  Habitat for Humanity Hamilton CEO Bob McConkey believes the statistics would be similar here.

“Where you lay your head down at night matters” said this morning’s guest, Curtis Hector, who grew up in a H4H home and who is now a student at York University. He spoke eloquently about his personal experience and the safety and security his home, and eventually his neighbourhood and the feeling of community provided.

We’re looking forward to sharing the story of Habitat for Humanity, now completing eight townhomes in the Keith neighbourhood, in our upcoming annual report.  

All For a Good Cause

We received a notice last week of the forthcoming production of A Man For All Seasons at the Dofasco Centre for the Arts on June 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  Once again, Hamilton’s legal community will take to the stage in support of two good causes:  Theatre Aquarius and The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children – a fund held at Hamilton Community Foundation.

Hamilton’s legal community have a long and distinguished history of philanthropy.  The establishment of the Lawyers’ Legacy for Children in 2008, however, provided a unique vehicle for collective and impactful philanthropy.   A number of grants have already been made from the fund, supporting organizations such as the Hamilton branch of Autism Ontario, the John Howard Society, the YMCA, Nelson Youth Centres and McMaster Children’s Hospital.

This fund was established with a vision, its purpose to “collectively inspire and enable children and young people to nourish and develop their knowledge, talents and values in the spirit of community, generosity and responsibility which has traditionally characterized the contributions of the lawyers of Hamilton.”

Hats off to you!  We look forward to an evening of good entertainment for a good cause.

“Money Talks” or rather, “it is important to talk money”

Participated in an interesting webinar on Family Philanthropy this week, hosted by the US Council on Foundations.  Guest speaker Nathan Dungan, Founder and President ofShare Save Spend opened the discussion with the startling statistic that the average person is confronted over 5,000 times daily – in some form or another – with a message about spending.  His message, therefore, was that as a society we need to pay much more attention to actively and deliberately helping our children learn and think about the importance and skills of balancing sharing, saving and spending.  In fact, he challenged that we should all ascribe to the aspiration that the choices we make with our money can change the world.  Nathan then went on to emphasize that this discussion must include much more than “transactional” type topics such as bank accounts, investments and such.  In addition, families need to devote more time and energy to helping their children understand the “interactive side” – values, culture, and family stories that reflect their approach to share, spend, save.

This message certainly aligns with what we hear from families involved with HCF, particularly those that are striving to actively teach their children about philanthropy and both the why and the how they can make a difference in their community.  Community foundations are good places to have those discussions.  There couldn’t be a better time in Hamilton to grow and celebrate family philanthropy.

New Year’s Eve at the Foundation

March 31, 2011 is  year end here at the Foundation.   Like everybody else on a  “normal” New Year’s Eve, as a “finance person”,  this day annually finds me contemplating the year that was and the year to come.    As I look at the past year for HCF  I am, as always, humbled by the generosity of our donors, by the amazing energy and effort of our charitable organizations in Hamilton and by the dedication and hard work of our Board and committee volunteers and staff.

Our year ending today has been one full of opportunities for us to play our role with our citizens and community partners in making  Hamilton a vibrant and sustainable community…”the best place to raise a child”.   The two things I know about the coming year are that it will be just as full of great opportunities to be part of  our very special community and, secondly, how fortunate I am to have the best job in the world.

Happy New Year to all!

An inspiring evening for our business community

Just attended the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards, a wonderful event recognizing the many organizations that have contributed to the vitality of our community in so many ways — some of them for over a century.

Not only was it great to see the inclusion of a non-profit category in these awards for the critical role they play in Hamilton, but so very reassuring to know that the criteria for all the awards includes how the businesses are involved in their community, and their practices in areas such as the environment.  And, virtually all the winners spoke about how proud they are to be part of our city.

Congratulations both to the winners and to all the nominees.  Check out who they were inThe Hamilton Spectator – itself a winner in the large business category.

Steve Paikin and The Agenda-Live from the Hammer

Had a great time tonight in the audience watching Steve Paikin work his magic with a live version of TVO’s The Agenda at Liuna Station in Hamilton.  The political debate was lively with representatives from all 3 provincial parties test driving their respective narratives in advance of a fall provincial election. But the best part by far was watching Paikin perform. Steve remains the most reasoned and reasonable moderator in Canadian television and it was great to see him do it back in his hometown.


Around the Bay for St. Joe’s

Running the anchor leg of the Around the Bay road race on a 3 person relay team including HCF Board member Graham Browne. Our HCF team is Running in support of St. Joe’s Hospital. …a beautiful but cold day…thankfully I get to bring it home. Unfortunately, my section includes the treacherous Valley Inn hill, which is always character building.

As a veteran of many Around the Bays, I can’t get over how much the event has grown. In my early days we would trudge along with a few hundred runners and very few spectators. Today, over 11,000 die hards will complete the 30k with thousands of spectators and supporters lining the route. A testament to the great work or the organizing committee over many decades has created something that all Hamiltonians can be proud of.

Larry Paikin-Celebrating A Lifetime of Service

I was honoured to attend a very special recognition ceremony at the Eva Rothwell Centre (formerly Robert Land School) this morning. Citizen extraordinaire Ron Foxcroft was on hand to donate two basketball backboards originally from the Air Canada Centre in recognition of Larry Paikin’s instrumental role in creating this incredible community centre.  Both Don MacVicar (the amazing volunteer leader at Eva Rothwell) and Larry’s son Jeff spoke eloquently about Mr. Paikin’s lifetime of quiet, committed community service.

Larry was predisposed in Florida and unable to attend, but I’m sure he will be thrilled to see the dazzling backboards now installed and well-used by the kids in a challenged, yet increasingly hopeful inner-city neighbourhood.

Well done Fox and well-deserved Larry.