As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, we continue to hear inspiring stories about community mobilization, emergency responses, and community foundations creating innovative solutions.

Across Canada, community foundations have confronted the pandemic with a willingness to provide help and support for those in need. This crisis has shown us the power of an engaged community, and the diverse emergency responses from community foundations have proved the importance of grassroots initiatives in local regions and municipalities.

The following is part of an ongoing series that spotlights the emergency response efforts of local community foundations across Canada. In addition to these features, we have also compiled a map sharing the mobilization efforts from community foundations across the country. 

Before COVID-19 hit the community of Prince George, the community foundation was getting ready to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The community foundation has not minded putting those plans on hold as they pivot to support those in need and provide pandemic relief for the community. 

When faced with the ongoing crisis, the community foundation provided immediate support in the form of unrestricted grants to local food banks. Food security was chosen as the current focus, as local programming has been readjusted to accommodate for social distancing, making access an ongoing challenge. In addition, the community foundation provided $10,000 in seed funding to the United Way of Northern BC’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The community foundation is in weekly conversations with the United Way of Northern BC to determine gaps and share information, and is talking with charities on the ground to hear their needs and amplify their efforts. The response fund will grant to immediate needs, but will consider long-term needs as well. The design of the fund recognizes that the effects of COVID-19 will impact communities for months, and likely years, to come. 

To fundraise for this emergency response fund, the community foundation is also participating in the nationwide Stay-at-Home Gala on May 2. The event will involve performances from talented community members, and will partner with a local restaurant to supply to participants with dinner. The goal is to create a gala atmosphere from the safety and comfort of home.

“It was a natural fit to provide even more support to our community… we’re hoping it will help bring people together,” says Mindy Stroet, Development Director. 

Stroet stresses that everything the foundation is doing right now is not about them, but about the community. While none of the original founders, many of whom are still fundholders and volunteers with the foundation, ever imagined that their community would need an emergency response fund to deal with a pandemic, she’s grateful the foundation exists alongside partners like the United Way to provide support for community needs.