Donor Stories

Giving with Heart: Jim and Jacqui Southcott contribute to the Grand Bend Community Foundation through life insurance.

Jim Southcott’s family has been part of Grand Bend for more than 100 years. Thanks to a recent gift to the Grand Bend Community Foundation, it will continue to be part of the community for decades to come.

Our community was named Grand Bend because the Ausable River once turned here and flowed south to Port Franks before finding its way to Lake Huron. In 1892, a cut was made to divert the river directly into the Lake at Grand Bend. It was in that era that Jim’s great grandfather bought the tract of land that became Southcott Pines.

The land eventually passed to Jim and his three brothers, Bob, Jack and Don, and in the early 1970s, they began to develop it as a subdivision.

Meanwhile, Jim was developing his own machinery business in Toronto and with wife Jacqui, raising their children. It was not until about five years ago that he and Jacqui built a house in Southcott Pines and retired to Grand Bend.

What a difference the couple has made in just five years! They were founding members of the Partners in Learning organization and have remained active in its programs. Jim has been an active member of the Rotary Club since he arrived and served as President in 2009. He was co-chair of the very successful fundraising campaign for the Beach Enhancement Project. And he is perhaps best known for the splendid parades he has organized for Winter Carnival and Canada Day celebrations.

Jim is a director of the Grand Bend Community Foundation and was recently honored as one of the Community Leaders of the Decade whose energy and enthusiasm have added so much to the quality of life in our community. Jacqui is a member of the Port Franks Camera Club and has many other involvements.

So it was a pretty easy decision, Jim says, to donate an existing life insurance policy to the Grand Bend Community Foundation. “This is really an ideal way for us to give back to Grand Bend, which has become such a wonderful community for our retirement,” Jim says. “We are confident that the future leaders of the Foundation will find good uses for the proceeds of this policy after we’re gone.”

Jim has good reason to be optimistic. The Foundation has already granted more than $800,000 to numerous projects to enrich our community, including making major grants to the Beach Enhancement project, the Community Health Centre, the schools and sports facilities, and many other projects supporting youth, seniors and the environment. The Foundation’s funds are permanently invested, with a portion of the income used to support the community.

“It’s hard to believe that Jim and Jacqui have only lived here for five years,” says Pat Morden, Chair of the Foundation. “They have made so many contributions to our community, and with this gift, they will continue to do so long after their lifetimes. On behalf of the whole community, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

[First posted December 2012]

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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 connection.

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.”

[First posted December 2012]

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Muma Bursary helps build futures

The M. J. Muma Bursary has become an annual award for selected graduating students of North Lambton Secondary School. To be considered for this award, students of NLSS must complete the Scholarship and Bursary Information form. The North Lambton Commencement Committee determines the qualified candidates, and selects the winner.

The first M. J. Muma Bursary was awarded to Robert Taylor of Forest in 2010.

Rob  graduated from North Lambton Secondary School, where his “strong drive to learn” earned him this award. He is currently enrolled in Lambton College, where he is taking courses in Carpentry and Construction Technology. Rob’s father was a cabinet maker until his untimely death several years ago, and Rob is planning to carry on his family’s tradition of skilled craftsmanship. Rob commented, “This award meant a lot to me and my family. It was great to see that my four years at NLSS really paid off.”

The Foundation wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Ms. Muma for her generous donations, which have enabled the establishment of the M. J. Muma Endowment Fund. This Fund is managed by the Grand Bend Community Foundation to ensure that grants and bursaries can be awarded annually to the Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre, and the Lambton Educational Foundation.

Ms. Muma has been a long-time resident of this area. Her great grandfather, who was her family’s original immigrant to Canada, was a cabinetmaker, so she was especially pleased that the first recipient, Rob Taylor, is studying carpentry.

[First posted December 2012]

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Hank and Nancy Winters chose Grand Bend for their retirement, and are doing everything they can to build the community

Hank and Nancy Winters

Both Hank and Nancy Winters travelled a winding road to get to Grand Bend. Hank was born in Montreal, but his early memories are of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. In the 1940s, it was still an active fishing village, and Hank remembers fondly the smells of salt cod and the sea. With a degree in Engineering from Queen’s University, he moved to Sault Ste. Marie and began a long career in the steel industry.

Nancy was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, and returned there to teach high school after also graduating from Queen’s.

They were married and raised their two children in the Sault, but the road took them to Toronto, Chicago, and Indiana for their careers. When it came time to retire, they decided to move back to Canada to be closer to their children, and Nancy’s parents in the Sault.

They had searched through a wide area of Southern Ontario before stumbling upon Grand Bend quite accidentally. However, they both knew almost immediately that this was the retirement community they had been searching for during 2004.

Hank remembers being amazed that this town, with its gorgeous beach, its new Health Centre, and its attractive neighbourhoods, was so quiet and undeveloped. The Winters visited a model home in Merrywood, and promptly asked Paul Pittao to build them one like it. They were confident that the community was about to boom, and property values would escalate. They moved into their new home late in 2004, and began the adventure called retirement.

They now realize that the Grand Bend that they live in is not quite the same community that they expected. “Development here is slower than we expected; people are very cautious and they like the slow pace,” Hank commented. “On the other hand, there is more community spirit and participation than we have ever imagined any town could have. It’s very easy to get involved and to participate in the many voluntary activities that make this town such a great place to live.”

Both Hank & Nancy have served a term as president of their Probus Clubs, and they have both participated on the Cancer Society’s annual Relay For Life. Nancy has been active in Partners in Learning, and Hank is on the boards of both the Community Foundation and the Health Services Foundation.

But it was when their daughter Liz, and grand-daughter Lauren, became permanent residents of Grand Bend, that Hank & Nancy decided to make a more substantial investment in this community’s future. They knew that the Grand Bend Community Foundation has a strong track record of granting funds to worthy causes and project in this community, and that it will continue to do so for many years into the future.

During a conversation with financial planner Brian Hall, Hank discovered that he could donate an existing life insurance policy to the Foundation, which he describes as “simple and painless way to give back to the community.”

Hank and Nancy hope that their gift to the Grand Bend Community Foundation will help the community to become a great town for young families, as well as for lots more retirees.

[First posted November 2012]

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Hay Communications Makes a Forever Gift

It was in 1911 that a group of citizens, concerned that Bell Canada wasn’t rolling out service to rural areas fast enough, decided to create their own telephone system to serve the Grand Bend,  Zurich and Dashwood area. In 1995, the Hay Township Telephone Company, as it was called,  became a collaborative owned by its customers. Now, nearly 100 years since it was founded, Hay Communications has made a generous gift to the Grand Bend Community Foundation that will ensure the company is part of the community forever.

“We hope this gift will make Grand Bend a better place to live,” said General Manager Angela Schneider in announcing the gift. “We are very impressed by the variety and extent of the different causes supported by the Foundation. It has grown tremendously and we want to be part of its future, and the future of the Grand Bend area.”

Hay made an initial gift of $10,000 to the Foundation in 2003, then added another $2,500 in October. The total contribution, together with any future contributions, will form the Hay Communication Fund within the Foundation’s general endowment fund.

“Hay Communications has been part of this area for many years,” said Hank Krech, Chair of the Foundation board. “This gift is a wonderful way to way to celebrate the special connection between our community and this company. By building our endowment, it will allow us to support even more great projects in the future.”

[First posted October 2012]

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Founding Chair Makes Significant Gift 

Hank Krech has already done a lot for the Grand Bend community.

Among many contributions, he played a major role in the 2001 Canada Games project, was a charter member of the Grand Bend Rotary Club, chaired the Rotary Nature Trail, helped launch the Huron United Way, and served as a Director of the Palliative Care Association, the Grand Bend and Area Health Centre and the Grand Bend and Area Health Services Foundation.

Perhaps most important, he was founding Chair of the Grand Bend Community Foundation and led it until last fall.

Under his leadership, the Foundation grew to almost $2 million and granted $700,000 to local charities. As Chair, Hank also launched the Community Improvement Coalition, which brings services clubs, the Foundation and the Municipality of Lambton Shores together to undertake major projects.

But for Hank, that’s not enough. To mark his retirement as Chair of the Foundation, he and his wife Jacqui have created the Krech Family Endowment Fund. “I wanted to leave a legacy after my term,” he says simply. “I see this as an opportunity to give back to a community that has been very good to me.”

The Krechs have chosen to create an “emerging fund.” They have committed to giving $2,000 a year for five years to create a $10,000 fund. “It’s easier to do it over five years,” says Hank. “And it’s something that we and others can add to over time.”

The money will be permanently invested, with a portion of the revenue used to support the Foundation’s operating expenses.

“We are thrilled that Hank has chosen this way to celebrate his involvement with the Grand Bend community,” said David Bannister, current Chair of the Foundation, in announcing the gift. “This is the first emerging fund for the Foundation, but we hope that others will consider this type of donation. It allows donors to plan their philanthropy and make a growing contribution to their legacy.”

Although no longer Chair of the Foundation, Hank will continue to lend his expertise and creativity as Honorary Chair. And of course, his legacy will live on forever in the Krech Family Fund.

[First posted September 2012]

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Brian and Irene Hall have left a legacy to their community through life insurance 

Brian and Irene Hall moved to Grand Bend 27 years ago. Brian opened his business, Navigator Financial Services, in 1982, and Irene joined him in 1989. Active in the community for many years, the couple recently made a gift of life insurance to the Grand Bend Community Foundation.

Their gift is in keeping with Brian’s approach to financial planning, which is based on setting clear goals and creating a plan to achieve them. In fact, he usually asks clients if they want to create a charitable legacy as part of their financial plans. Many are interested in continuing to support favourite causes beyond their lifetime.

There are several ways to make such a gift, but Brian says life insurance has some significant advantages. It allows you to make your gift from income, rather than from assets, often at a time when your earning potential is at its highest. Because insurance payments are treated as charitable donations, there is also some tax relief. The proceeds from a life insurance policy go directly to the organization you name, ensuring that your plans are fully realized, and your gift is completely private. In addition to a new policy, it’s possible to sign over an existing policy that is no longer needed to your charity of choice.

“The big incentive,” says Brian, “is that someone of modest means can make a very sizeable gift.” For example, for a 55-year old couple a life insurance policy yielding $250,000 would cost approximately $1,700 annually. With a tax credit of approximately 40%, the net cost would be about $1,000 or just $2.80 a day.

The Halls made their gift to the Grand Bend Community Foundation because it allows them to support two projects close to their hearts – the Community Health Centre and water quality initiatives. Says Brian: “With the Community Foundation, you can have one policy and divide the proceeds in any way that is meaningful to you. I can’t imagine why you’d do it any other way.”

[First posted September 2012]

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Tony Relouw Gives Back

Tony Relouw moved to Grand Bend with his family in 1956. Apart from a ten-year stint in nearby Exeter, he has been part of the community ever since.

When Relouw was asked to be a founding member of the Grand Bend Community Foundation in 2000, he accepted readily. “I’m a true believer in the concept.” he says. At the time, he was seriously considering starting a private family foundation, but soon realized it could turn into an administrative nightmare. “I decided that I was better off working through the Community Foundation, so that somebody else would administer the funds, but the money would still go where I wanted it to go.”

In 2002, he made a contribution of $100,000 to create the Relouw Fund within the Grand Bend Community Foundation. The fund is designed to be used in support of youth and education. “I have three children and seven grandchildren.” he explains, “so this is the cause that is nearest and dearest to (the Relouw family) personally.”

To date, the foundation has made three grants from the fund to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. The funds helped the school build a gazebo and sign, and to purchase books, uniforms and equipment.

“This community has been very good to us, allowing us to be successful.” says Relouw in explaining his generous contribution. “Now we’re fortunate enough to be able to give some money back and do some good with it. If people who are fortunate don’t contribute to the community, good things don’t happen.”

Relouw has confidence that the foundation is the right place to begin building his legacy to the community. “It’s doing a tremendous job,” he says. “A good amount of money has been granted, and the capital has grown too.”

He pauses and then adds, “Of course, there’s room for lots more!”

[First posted September 2006]

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Relouws give $100,000 to Foundation 

A Grand Bend couple has generously donated $100,000 to the Grand Bend Community Foundation.

Tony and Fran Relouw have wanted to make this donation for a very long time. In handing over the cheque to chairman, Hank Krech, Tony, who heads up the foundation’s marketing and communications committee, said he believes in what the foundation is doing and this seemed like the best way to demonstrate that.

The money will create a new endowment fund with the foundation’s Community Growth fund called the Tony and Fran Relouw Family Fund. Proceeds, each year, will be granted to worthwhile youth and recreational activities in the greater Grand Bend area.

Krech said this is a wonderful way to show the community that the Grand Bend Community Foundation is evolving into a positive force for long-term improvement in greater Grand Bend.

“Our motto is ‘growing support for an outstanding community,’ and Tony and Fran have certainly shown commitment to that cause with this wonderful gift.,” said Krech.

Tony started Andex Metal Products in Exeter 35 years ago. He and Fran have spent 46 years in this community of Grand Bend. The Relouws have raised three children here and their children are raising five children here.

“This community is near and dear to us,” said Tony.

[First posted 2002] 

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Local couple makes gift to Foundation 

Like many people in Grand Bend, Margaret and Bernard Sabourin spent most of their lives elsewhere. They moved to Huron Woods from Toronto shortly after Bernard, an executive with Kraft Foods, retired in 1991.

“I love the quiet,” says Margaret. “I love being close to the lake and feeling that we’re living in the forest. It’s very peaceful.” Their house accommodates lots of lively family get-togethers during the summer. The Sabourins have five children and nine grandchildren ranging in age from two to 21.

Recently, Margaret decided to make a significant gift to the Grand Bend Community Foundation. The Foundation will hold the money in the Sabourin Family Endowment Fund, and the earnings will be used to make grants to local charities.

Margaret explains her reasons for making the gift simply. “We love Grand Bend and wanted to give something back. When we looked around for places to do something, the Community Foundation seemed to be the right place.”

The Sabourin Family Endowment Fund will be part of the Foundation’s Community Growth Fund. Each year, the Foundation adjudicates applications from local charities and provides grants to those who are meeting local needs with innovative projects. Margaret is confident that her fund will be put to good use. “We’ve been very fortunate in our lives, so we don’t have any special needs,” she says. “I would just like to see the funds used where they’re needed most. I’m sure the Foundation will figure out where that is.”

Margaret says making the gift has been personally meaningful and she expects there are others who would also enjoy making a difference. With typical modesty she adds, “I don’t want a big to-do made about this, but if it will encourage others to consider it, that’s great.”

[First posted 2004]

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