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Posted: May 16, 2020

Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies forges ahead

By Erin Knutson

Virtual interaction and accelerated modernization are vital ingredients for surviving remote living these days, and the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies (CFKR) is continuing to thrive and expand during uncertain times.

Following the nation-wide Stay at Home Gala that was hosted online in Cranbrook Saturday (May 2), the foundation is pleased to announce that it has raised over $9,000 from its silent auction.

“It was a nice event to share with the community and to give people a break from Netflix or whatever else they’re doing to enjoy some live entertainment,” said CFKR Executive Director Lynnette Wray.

Proceeds will go to non-profits serving on the frontlines of COVID-19, according to Wray, in a phone interview at home where she has been working since the pandemic began.

The Gala was demonstrative of the technological innovation created by social distancing, a mark of the pandemic, as virtual guests enjoyed a hallmark evening.

Viewers celebrated with local celebrities, musicians, live bartending, including the invention of a Quarantini, entertainers, and speakers that all contributed to an evening of togetherness.

Lynnette Wray

The shared experience was streamed into people’s living rooms and broadcast from private locations with the intent to inspire the community in the spirit of giving and to help those risking themselves to serve others in need.

“We found out about it two weeks before the event, and although it’s a busy time for the foundation, I thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, ” said Wray.

Pleased with the results of the Gala, Wray will sit down with her board of directors and decide as quickly as possible where to designate the funds to deserving non-profits in the area.

“Once we’ve made those decisions, we will share them with the community as well,” she said.

CFKR has done what so many other businesses and agencies are doing, and that is juggling work from home, parenting, and schoolwork simultaneously and in close quarters.

“It’s a balancing act that lots and lots of people have been doing, and we are just trying to maintain our normal operations and do our very best to continue to provide excellent customer service.”

The transition to remote working has been relatively painless for the organization. As the only staff member with thirteen board of directors, it wasn’t a stretch for Wray to commence with long-distance board meetings.

“We’re a one-person operation, and somewhere along the line, we got a Zoom subscription, so it was a reasonably seamless move to electronic meetings,” she said.

The federally incorporated CFKR relies on permanently invested funds to offer stability and sustainability to the organization, even in difficult times.

“That’s the whole idea behind endowment funds and the community foundation. We will still be able to do our regular granting, and we are continuing with our normal support to the community in our annual granting as well as additional things like the Stay at Home Gala.”

CFKR continues to have its ear to the ground for additional opportunities to support the community as they stick with their mandate to accommodate emerging issues and needs using non-designated funding.

“There are often grant opportunities that may arise for our community that can only be accessed by community foundations. We’re glad that we’re here and that when those things come up, we can bring them to where we live and help support the folks locally.”

Wray mentions that the current climate for other non-profits will be challenging. The ones with CFKR endowment funds will have a revenue stream on which they can depend as well as caring individuals that continue to donate and volunteer during this time.

“Generosity from service clubs has been exceptional as people have stepped up to support the Cranbrook Food Bank, Street Angels, and the Salvation Army, to name a few,” she said.

On the positives of COVID-19, Wray noted that making the best possible use of technology and adapting to new platforms are all things that we can learn from this crisis.

“It’s something we can take when we return to the new normal, whatever the new normal is, and there may be some strategies that we can continue moving forward.”

Thanking all of the frontline workers was another point of discussion for Wray as she sent out a big thank you to all the vital workers who continue in the grocery stores and in the health care system and with essential services.

“Our board president came up with a quote for COVID-19 – in these uncertain times, you can be certain the community foundation will be there for you.”

Lead image: The CFKR board and staff gathered at the Ground Floor Co-working Space in Cranbrook. Jubinville photography image/photos submitted


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