Community Connections – June 2015

We are excited to share our news with you and to highlight how the generous support of our donors and contributors has benefitted the community of Bowen Island. If you have questions, comments, or ideas for our next newsletter, we invite you to get in touch with us! 

Chair’s Report 

2014 – A Year of Evolution and Significant Growth

I am pleased to provide an overview of the Bowen Island Community Foundation’s work in 2014.

During 2014 the Board updated and formalized the Foundation’s governance and structure; we merged our donor lists, revised our website and took steps to communicate more effectively and regularly with you – our donors and supporters.

Three major themes emerged this year – community leadership, building our endowments, and providing strategic grants to the community.

Community Leadership

Community leadership is critical to the Foundation. We heard from you, through the dialogue created by our Vital Conversations event; you recognize that governments have limited resources, and you told us that you want improvements in health care services, a community centre where Islanders can gather, and a more civil and engaged debate on community issues. You want our assistance in providing the many Island charities and foundations with help in their granting processes. And we are pleased and honoured to have taken on these tasks. Our youth council, just under way, is an example of our efforts; thanks to the vision of a donor who saw the need for assisting and mentoring the youth of the Island, we now have a vehicle for improving opportunities and engaging our youth.

Building Endowments

Our 2014 Giving Campaign raised $150,000 – almost twice the amount of 2013, and a several-­‐fold improvement over previous years. We have three major ways for Bowen Islanders to donate – to an already designated endowment fund (for specifically mandated scholarships or projects), to our Bowen Legacy Fund (a contribution to a particular project or capital campaign – essentially your vision as an interested donor) and to our Community Impact Fund, a source that allows the Board to take your donations and apply them to the emerging needs of the Bowen Island community. We are especially proud of our administrative costs in building our endowments; every dollar that you give will find its way to its intended beneficiary – all of our administrative costs and our overhead are donated.


Strategic Grants

We were able to grant a total of $58,000 to the community in 2014. Some examples – we donated $15,000 to the Garden Gateway Initiative, a volunteer enterprise that will transform the entry to our island into a wonderfully pleasing cornucopia of plantings and structures. We provided funding for expanded gym time for youth, and a regular cooking class, where young people learn not only how to cook, but to work co-­‐operatively to create healthy meals for themselves and their peers. And we provided additional monies to the Helping Hand Fund, an initiative that provides for emergency funding to Islanders who are working their way through difficult and extraordinary crises.

We hope and expect that this is only the beginning of an expanded mandate for the Foundation. Our goal is to be transparent and open in representing your aspirations. We strive to be the ethical stewards of your charitable gifts – to help you in building a stronger, more sustainable, and more compassionate Bowen Island.


Soren Hammerberg – Chair

In Memory

The Bowen Island Community Foundation, on behalf of our island community, is honoured to announce a legacy gift of an endowment fund, the Margaret Witty Bursary Fund. This endowment has been established by Dave Witty and his family, in recognition of Marg Witty’s contributions to Island Pacific School (IPS) and the community of Bowen Island.  The $50,000 fund will provide an annual bursary to one or more deserving IPS students and will be administered by the BICF.

The Foundation would like to express sincere gratitude to the Witty Family for this gift. We know that we join many members of the Bowen community in celebrating Marg’s memory and the many positive contributions she made to the island.

Donations may be made to this endowment at

2015 Community Impact Grants –
Call for Applications

Application deadline: Friday, June 26, 2015

The Board of the Bowen Island Community Foundation has approved $25,000 from its Community Impact Fund to be distributed as grants ($2,500 to $15,000 per grant) for community projects that will benefit Bowen Island and its residents. We will announce the 2015 grant recipients on October 28, 2015.


Grant applicants must submit a 500-word proposal to the Foundation’s Grants Committee by Friday, June 26, 2015.  We will announce short-listed applicants on Monday, July 13. Short-listed applicants will then have until Friday, September 25 to provide any supplementary material.  Click here for full details.

Bowen Island Community Foundation Celebration Draws a Record Crowd 


On April 30th, a crowd of more than 100 people gathered at Rivendell for the Donor Appreciation Reception and Annual General Meeting of the Bowen Island Community Foundation (BICF). The standing room only event was a wonderful celebration of giving – and community engagement on Bowen.

Board Chair Soren Hammerberg explained that the Foundation’s mission is “to contribute to the quality of life on Bowen Island by building endowments, making strategic grants and inspiring community leadership.” He went on to highlight some examples of the Foundation’s work in these areas over the past year: the 2014 Giving Campaign raised $150,000 towards building BICF’s endowment funds – more than double the amount raised in 2013. Further, grants made by the Foundation to community causes totalled a record $58,000 in 2014. And community leadership was demonstrated through the Vital Conversations event and the development of Youth Council, an initiative sparked by the vision of a donor who recognized the need for mentorship and assistance to youth on the island. “This work, and our ability to make a difference on Bowen, is made possible by the generosity of our donors,” said Hammerberg. One such donor, local realtor Barry Thomas, attended the AGM celebration to present the Foundation with a cheque for $1,500.

Three grant recipients shared their stories, illustrating the direct impact donations received by the Foundation are making in the community. Youth worker John Stiver, who received a grant to provide both gym time and nutrition and cooking classes for youth, expressed his appreciation. “The kids absolutely love the cooking classes, and now, because the gym is open, they have somewhere to go. This grant has made such a difference for youth on the island,” he said. Holly Graff expressed gratitude for the grant she received, in partnership with Bowen Heritage, to develop a “Garden Gateway” at the entrance to Snug Cove – a project that recently earned her a Community Service Award from the BC Society of Landscape Architects. Her initiative has captured the imagination of many islanders who have pledged to donate their time and expertise to assist with garden construction. And finally Shelagh MacKinnon of the Little Red Church explained how the Helping Hand Fund offers an emergency response to Bowen Islanders facing extraordinary circumstances, supporting many families and individuals on Bowen through times of crisis.

To round out the evening, guests enjoyed a glass of wine and a presentation by Bowen Island’s own Road Show host, Jeanette Langmann of Uno Langmann Gallery, on the fine art of antique valuation and appraisal.

Thank you to all who attended and made the evening such a success!

Meet Your Board

The Bowen Island Community Foundation has been a part of Bowen’s culture since 2001, and now has almost $1 million in funds from community donations, with an annual granting programme, and the goal of using these funds to support arts, culture, education, recreation and the social well-being of Bowen Island residents.

Who are the Community Foundation’s board members? Like Bowen’s population, the directors come from diverse backgrounds – we have three directors with extensive experience in business, three lawyers, two communications specialists, an environmental expert, an educator, and a health professional.

But even though one might want to classify members of the Board by their backgrounds, they can’t easily be grouped into occupational silos. Jennifer Pardee, one of our two most recently appointed board members, was the principal of Bowen Island Community School from 2010 until her retirement in 2015. She’s also committed to the environment, with kayaking and cycling on Bowen as longstanding pursuits. Our other most recent appointee, Joanne Gassman, a recently retired senior Vice-President with the Bank of Montreal, also serves as a member of the board of the Streetohome Foundation, a Vancouver–based organization dedicated to ending homelessness in the city.

Kathy Bellringer has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business, and has also been actively involved with both regional and urban art galleries.

Our treasurer, Kristen Watson, is the Manager of Finance for the Bowen Island Municipality and a Certified General Accountant. She brings significant charitable sector accounting experience with her past work with Endswell Foundation and Tides Canada. She’s also an active volunteer with several Bowen Island organizations, and currently serves on the board of the Bowen Island Gymnastics Club.

Jennifer Hall has extensive experience in communications and project management in Japan and Thailand, and is an avid outdoor enthusiast, with hiking and kayaking as an important part of her life on Bowen. She is also one of the founding members of Bowen Island Gives! (BIG!) – an Island group that organizes an annual charity climb up Mt. Gardner.

Kim Stephens is a professional engineer and the Executive Director of the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC, a non-profit society that is the hub for a “design with nature” approach to land development. Again, Kim’s skills extend beyond those of a professional engineer, into a portfolio of communications – linking local government initiatives with the provincial government, through his carefully constructed and collaborative processes of facilitation.

Julia McCaig has a wealth of experience in publishing, media and marketing, and we rely on Julia for her knowledge of web technology. She also volunteers for Bowen’s Caring Circle Health Resource Centre.

And then there is Colleen O’Neil, who has worked as a nurse in a wide range of settings, from emergency to palliative care. Colleen is also actively involved in Bowen’s Caring Circle and in the community, whether working diligently to establish better health care for Bowen Islanders, or participating in a wide range of golf tournaments.

Andrea Verwey, one of three lawyers on the Board, practised labour and employment law in Canada and Australia for a decade before moving into a management role with a Baker & McKenzie, a global law firm. She is now a consultant to lawyers and other professionals in the areas of communications, mentoring, productivity, and career effectiveness. On Island, Andrea recently co-facilitated the Municipal Council’s strategic planning process with Joyce Ganong. 

Neil Boyd is a 35-year resident of Bowen, who trained as a lawyer but works in the education field as a university professor – yet another crossover.

And, finally, there is our indefatigable Board Chair, Soren Hammerberg. He is a lawyer, a teacher and mentor, having not only started his own litigation firm, but also having taught for both UBC Law School and Continuing Legal Education.

It’s quite a cast of characters, and although we all have diverse backgrounds, what we share in common is a love of Bowen Island. We represent all Islanders, and it is our honour and our pleasure to serve you. We invite you to learn more about us, and about what we, in partnership with the community and our donors, are trying to do to help make Bowen a stronger and more caring community.

The Community Foundations of Canada Conference: Calgary, Alberta, May 7-9, 2015

The Board of your Bowen Island Community Foundation was well represented in Calgary, with three of our directors taking in sessions that ranged from the topic of improving Board governance to the subject of initiatives that can tackle the problem of loneliness within communities.

We’ll just highlight three of the most intriguing and potentially useful sessions. First, small funds for small neigbourhoods – grants that can work to build connections and bonds between people. Second, a website analytics tool called GAB (Google Analytics Benchmark) that will allow us to compare the impacts of our online strategies with those of other community foundations in Canada. And third, the creation of the Fogo Island Inn, a story of how a charitable foundation can help to revive a rural economy through the media of art, design and innovation.

The Vancouver Foundation spoke of its success in combatting the problem of loneliness, through the use of small neighbourhood grants that can serve to help those who are part of a neighbourhood, but are isolated and lonely, perhaps because of mobility or language issues, or perhaps because of a simple lack of opportunities to meet and share experiences with others.  Consider “the power of pie”, a small grant that enabled neighbourhood women – originally from Germany, Brazil, Venezuela, France, China, Japan, and Iran – to start cooking together, learning how to make traditional dishes from their mother countries, and learning to speak each other’s languages.

And then there was Google Analytics Benchmark (GAB), a web application tool that will allow our more technically capable Board members to tell us how our website measures up to other community foundation websites, in terms of number of visitors, the length of time spent on the site and the frequency with which visitors return. GAB will permit us to compare our foundation to others, taking into account our relative assets and our population size. We will be able to assess the effectiveness of our online communications strategy and our use of social media – and then implement changes to communicate more effectively with the community, when and where the need arises.

Finally, conference representatives were inspired by the story of the Fogo Island Inn, located in a fishing community off Newfoundland’s coast, a very remote location with craggy shores and a long history of fishing.  The Inn was recently developed by the Shorefast Foundation, which is the inspiration of Zita Cobb, a successful businesswoman who grew up on Fogo Island. Through the Foundation she created the Inn as a community asset, and then employed local residents to create the art and to manufacture the furniture. Shorefast has noted that 100 per cent of the operating surpluses of the Inn are reinvested into Fogo Island “to help secure a sustainable and resilient future for Fogo Island, Newfoundland.”

These creative approaches illustrate a range of possibilities for community foundations. What might we all do together to help secure a sustainable and resilient future for Bowen Island, British Columbia?

Snug Cove Garden Gateway Planned for this Fall! 
Report from a Bowen Island Community Foundation Grant Recipient 

Submitted by Holly Graff

This proposed Garden Gateway is an initiative that is truly a grass roots effort, one that was sparked during the Vital Conversations Event hosted last year by the BICF.

“Create a more welcoming experience at the ferry, with signage and information, plantings and public art, to create a visually pleasing arrival to Bowen Island.” Vital Conversations Report
We are thrilled to have been awarded the largest BICF Community Impact Grant to date of $15,000, which has enabled us to leverage an additional $17,000 in private funds and gifts in kind that we have raised.

  • Provide a visual expression of our community at the entrance to our Island. Akin to a “welcome home” mat at a front door.
  • Express our pride as residents in our unique Island environment. 
  • Provide an introduction to visitors as a “gateway” leading to the larger natural and tended environments on Bowen.
  • Allow for screening of the parking lot and boat yard as encouraged in our Land Use Bylaw (LUB).
  • Provide seating and a public gathering space, encouraging vibrant interaction amongst residents and visitors alike within a space that is essentially a loading ramp for the ferry.

“A visible improvement through a concerted joint effort would lift spirits, and help the community approach other situations with confidence and optimism.” Vital Conversations Report


  • Collaborate with the Union Steam Ship Company during their design for maintenance bays, adjacent to the opposite side of the lock block wall, contributing and combining our efforts to this eventual marina amenity.
  • The community will have the opportunity to rally behind a cause that everyone can agree with in principle. The project has received overwhelming expressions of community support.
  • Potential for this to be viewed as a bite-sized “module” towards advancing the need for Civic Pride identified in Vital Conversations.
  • Could be an example of small and incremental improvement and be a model for future initiatives, specifically in Snug Cove.
  • Because of its scale and physical attributes, it also has the added advantage that if the need should ever arise, it can be dismantled and rebuilt in many different configurations with all of the same materials.
  • The fact that this public amenity can be accomplished without any Municipal funds means that all island residents will benefit at no cost.

We are in the Development Permit Application phase of this project, as the land in question belongs to the Municipality and is also designated as part of the “Village Revitalization Zone.”
If all goes according to plan, we hope to begin work on this project in the fall, when the installation of planting materials is optimal.

“Opportunities to build a stronger sense of civic pride abound, and a logical starting point is (within) Snug Cove.” Vital Conversations Report


Bowen Island Community Foundation Establishes Bowen’s First Youth Council

With the establishment of Bowen Island’s first Youth Council, we now have a vehicle for improving opportunities and engaging our youth. The idea to create a Youth Council grew out of the vision of a donor who saw the need for assisting and mentoring youth on the Island.
The Youth Council will be made up of a group of volunteer youth, with one BICF Board Member acting as Board liaison, who will work together to research and assess community needs, work with local non-profit organizations, review and assess funding applications, and make grant money available for youth initiatives, under the auspices of the BICF.
Aspiring to better youth communities through innovative grants and inclusive leadership, the Youth Council’s goals are to:

  • enhance the quality of life for youth
  • empower young people to take action on issues of need
  • support programs which encourage youth growth and dignity, inclusiveness, fairness and equality
  • promote youth voice
  • increase opportunities for youth participation in the community

For more information or to get involved, please contact Jennifer Pardee.

Supporting the Work of the Foundation
If you would like to learn more about the work of the BICF, and how donor contributions are making a difference in our community, please visit our website
To find out about making a donation to the Foundation, please visit the donor section of our site. With your continued financial support, the Foundation works to make Bowen a better, more caring community. Tax receipts are issued for all donations over $20.
We welcome your questions, suggestions and contributions and hope to hear from you!
Send us an email at



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