Leaving a lasting mark: Stephanie Donaldson creates a Family Fund at the Grand
Bend Community Foundation
“I’ve loved it all my life.”
That’s Stephanie Donaldson talking about her adopted community of Grand Bend. Recently she established a Family Fund with the Grand Bend Community Foundation to honour that special
Stephanie grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Her father and uncle bought land in Oakwood in the late 1930s. “Everyone else was going to northern Michigan,” she says, “but Grand Bend was closer and they liked the idea that they were in a foreign country!” The cottage where Donaldson lives now was built after the post-War real estate boom in 1949.
Stephanie met her husband Ted at a party in Grosse Pointe and was immediately drawn to “his smile and his blue eyes.” They were married a year and a half later. Ted spent his entire career with Chrysler, including an eight-year stint in England. “We left the U.S. with two boys,” Stephanie says, “and came back with four boys, a nanny, a Great Dane, two gerbils and a cat!”
Although her two oldest sons were teenagers by the time they returned from England, and didn’t spend as much time in Grand Bend, the two youngest, Peter and Geoffrey, spent every summer here. They made many friends by playing in the local soccer league. Today her sons range in age from 36 to 52 and she has seven grandchildren.
In his early 60s, Ted developed Alzheimer Disease. He and Stephanie lived full-time in Grand Bend for several years. She remembers with gratitude the excellent health care he received, and the kindness of the community in the face of his occasional eccentricities. Eventually the family decided Ted would be more comfortable in his own home in Grosse Pointe.
Meanwhile, Stephanie was becoming more involved in the Grand Bend community. It started when she was President of the Oakwood Park Residents Association, and continued to grow. “When I started out, we were simply cottagers, coming Memorial Day and leaving Labour Day,” she says. “We enjoyed the best of the community but gave little. As I stayed longer and longer, ‘I began to think, I’m here, I have time and I want to give back to a community that has given so much to us.”
And give back she did, helping save the public school, supporting the development of the Community Health Centre, chairing the Health Services Foundation, and much more. She is a strong supporter of St. John’s by the Lake Anglican Church, and currently serves as a Warden. She is also a Director of the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, a member of the Grand Bend Environment Committee, and past Board Member of the Alzheimer Society of Huron County, where she serves as a Community Ambassador. Recently she was recognized as one of Grand Bend’s “Community Leaders of the Decade.”
Now Stephanie has found another way to give back. She has created the Stephanie and Ted Donaldson Family Fund at the Grand Bend Community Foundation.
Family Funds are created with a gift of $5,000 or more over five years. A Family Fund is a way to make a difference forever. They are permanently invested and each year a portion of the income is used to support valuable projects in the community. Over the past 10 years, the Grand Bend Community Foundation has granted more than $800,000 to community projects, including the library, the Community Health Centre, the Huron Country Playhouse, sports fields, schools, the beach enhancement project and more.
Stephanie is delighted to make a permanent contribution to a community that means so much to her, and hopes to add to her fund on a regular basis. “I am blessed,” she says simply. “If I can make a difference, I want to do it.”