Suffice it to say, 2015 was a fast-paced year for Foundation of Hope in terms of establishment and growth. The calendar year was marked by so many achievements and with each successive milestone, it’s becoming clear that a movement is underway.
The overarching goal of FOH is to rise far beyond the individual founders, donors, and membership and become greater than the sum of its parts, stronger than any single government mandate, and more collaborative than any single community, organization, or interest.
The year began as an exploration of how FOH should best reach its potential. Strategic planning, communications, and networking within the larger community led FOH to put a call out to LGBT+ newcomers and newcomer services for direction in its funding mission. The Community Needs Assessment workshop served to hone the Foundation’s purpose, refine its mission, and realize its vision as a registered charity.
Hard work by the volunteer Board of Directors in the spring allowed FOH to draft bylaws and a constitution – important conditions under which FOH became a registered charity with Canada Revenue Agency on April 2nd. Attaining charitable status was a critical milestone and perfectly timed for STRUT, the flagship fundraiser that nabbed over $45,000 in donations from corporate partnerships and the tireless efforts of individual participants who collected donor pledges to strut a mile along the seawall in stiletto heels. The inaugural STRUT event literally kicked off on June 6th and was a smashing success. STRUT is expected to be the springboard for expansion beyond the City of Vancouver in the years to come. Stay tuned!
Working into the summer, FOH managed to formally adopt bylaws in the first Annual General Meeting on July 22nd, which officially established a Board of Directors with standing committees and an Executive team – all of us volunteers. We sure grew up fast! But there is so much to do and no time to be wasted…
…And grow we did. Fundraising efforts ramped up and FOH began to feel the momentum. Individual organizations have begun to approach us seeking to hold fundraisers on FOH’s behalf, including Neighbourhood House, Mercury Artists, and the generous support of caring individuals in the queer community like Kevin Perra and Peter Fitzmaurice. FOH also teamed up with Chimp to get added exposure to the larger world of online philanthropy. All of this enthusiasm has brought tens of thousands of dollars in to date.
During the 2015 Pride celebration, Prime Minister-to-be Justin Trudeau embraced the queer community and stood proud with FOH as an important ally. He later pledged to the world to reform the way Canada addresses refugees. His decision to bring in 25,000 Syrians by year’s end was further qualified to specifically acknowledge inclusion of members the LGBT+ community.
The Grants Committee developed streams of funding devoted to Sponsorship and Community Services and FOH began to receive applications for financial aid on both sides. The ultimate milestone of the year was the disbursement $25,000 in grants during the first round of applications. This included a total of $17,500 in sponsorship funding awarded to Rainbow Railroad of the Greater Toronto Area in collaboration with the Rainbow Refugee and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto. The funds will be devoted to assist with the private resettlement of LGBT+ refugees within the Lifeline Syria project, as well as for emergency travel needs. The remaining $7,500 was awarded to MOSAIC, a locally important newcomer services provider that intends to use the funding to directly assist LGBT+ newcomers with much-needed counselling services.
As always, we remind you to consider a donation, no matter how small. Everything counts! Whether it’s your Time, Treasure, or Talent, we are always looking for enthusiastic people who care as much as we do about the plight of refugees.