American Friends of Whistler to hand out $90K in grants this year 

Despite significant contributions, raising awareness of group 'continual challenge'

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY ALYSSA NOEL - DONATION NATION The American Friends of Whistler have been a longtime supporter of the Whistler Community Services Society, which operates the local food bank. This year, the group will hand out a $15,000 grant to the food bank.
  • file photo by alyssa noel
  • DONATION NATION The American Friends of Whistler have been a longtime supporter of the Whistler Community Services Society, which operates the local food bank. This year, the group will hand out a $15,000 grant to the food bank.

The American Friends of Whistler (AFOW), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the resort community, will hand out close to $100,000 to deserving local and regional organizations this year.

Founded in 2002 by a group of American visitors who regularly spent time in Whistler, the AFOW raises and distributes funds to groups working in the following sectors: health and human services, arts and culture, environmental protection, and outdoor recreation.

This year, the organization will dole out $15,000 to the Whistler Food Bank; $17,000 to the Whistler Community Services Society's (WCSS) Birth, Baby and Beyond program; $13,500 to Arts Whistler; $10,000 to the Howe Sound Women's Centre; $10,000 to Avalanche Canada; and $25,000 to the Audain Art Museum.

"We have a fondness for Whistler," explained AFOW board chair Gerry Brown. "It's just something we like to do for our second home, to support good causes in the Whistler area."

Jackie Dickinson, executive director of WCSS, explained how crucial the AFOW's longstanding support has been to Whistler's dedicated social-service provider. "These grants allow us to keep doing the work we're doing and at an even bigger capacity," she said.

Demand for the food bank—and WCSS's programs, in general—has been on the rise as Whistler's population has ballooned in recent years. Food was handed out 2,249 times at the food bank throughout the most recent fiscal year, with children making up 35 per cent of those visits. Factor in the WCSS's new, central location on Nesters Road, and Dickinson expects demand to continue climbing.

"We've seen more people coming in to our food bank and this grant is really beneficial to us serving that population. And also, because of the growing population in Whistler, we're able to now run this program, Birth, Baby and Beyond," she noted. "We just ran it seven times a fiscal year and we're on tap to do that again this year."

Birth, Baby and Beyond is an eight-week program for new mothers to meet with other moms in a supportive setting, as well as a clinical counsellor and registered doula.

"We've seen some really positive impacts it's had on the community and the mental health and well-being of family systems," Dickinson said. "When we can invest in families that early on, we know the impact is fantastic."

In spite of the AFOW's significant contributions to the community, current board member (and former chair) Rod Rohda said the organization struggles to attract new donors.

"Getting visibility is a continual challenge for us," he said. Rohda noted how, around the time the AFOW was founded, there was "a real influx" of Americans looking to give back to the resort following the dot-com boom.

"Those people are aging, and there are new people, younger people coming into the community, so how do you reach out to them and get their attention and get their interest in contributing to us?" Rohda asked. "That's an ongoing challenge and I think any fundraising organization has that challenge to face."

The AFOW is hosting its annual Inside Scoop event on Sunday, Feb. 17 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Audain Art Museum. The event is partially a thank you to AFOW donors, but also open to anyone who wants to learn more about the organization, Rohda said. Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 at the door, and include a private museum tour, as well as talks from Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton and Whistler Blackcomb COO Pete Sonntag. RSVP to info@afow.org.

Tags:

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Latest in Whistler

More by Brandon Barrett

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation