Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Firm Foundation?

Yesterday a dedicated "group of 7" Bridge St congregation members sat together pondering nearly fifty grant applications to the Bridge St. Foundation. These grant committee members had already spent hours poring over the applications from organizations across Canada and around the world. Truth be told, even though I often sit in, as I did yesterday, I let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to checking financial statements, if they have met basic criteria, and when or if they applied previously. The wisdom of the group is remarkable, and some have been doing this for years. While they would prefer to be lavish in their support to these worthy causes, miniscule interest rates mean that the money available to distribute continues to shrink. This year is will be just over $90,000. While that ain't chump change, there was a time when more than a quarter million was given away annually. Over the years there have been scores of recipients with a total distribution in excess of $5 million.

This Spring there were applications for church "edible green space" projects, aboriginal youth canoe trips, a refugee furniture bank, and a parent support group for those affected by sexual assault. Internationally there is request out of Thailand from a play centre for children who are exploited as labourers and one from Nicaragua to help women who have been victims of violence. Locally, a project to bring music to those with Alzheimer's through iPods applied again. How to chose?

I am grateful that the Foundation exists, and that grants are made according to merit, not religious affiliation. I do wonder how long we will be able to continue this important work. In so many organization and faith communities the volunteers are aging. Will there be a next generation of thoughtful and prayerful philanthropy. The best thing I had to offer yesterday was an opening prayer for God's guidance with a group of dedicated souls who believe in it.


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