Community Papers

Community Foundation of the South Okanagan expands horizons

Executive director Aaron McRann of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan and Sarah Trudeau, the organization
Executive director Aaron McRann of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan and Sarah Trudeau, the organization's new regional development co-ordinator look over maps of some of the areas where she will be working in the coming months. Her role will be to look at the rural regions in an attempt to better serve the residents who live in the outlying areas.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan is expanding its horizons with the addition of a new staff member.

Thanks to a grant from an anonymous donor, the CFSO has hired Sarah Trudeau as their new regional development co-ordinator, allowing the group to focus efforts on establishing relationships throughout the South Okanagan.

“She has a great deal of experience working with non-profits and she has done a fair bit of community development work in the past. Primarily, the key thing was a willingness and ability to be out in the community working side by side with our constituents,” said CFSO executive director Aaron McRann.

The CFSO has been operating for 21 years, working with donors to create legacies in the form of permanent endowment funds. Grants are distributed from income earned, preserving the capital to ensure a perpetual stream of funding. But because of the size of the region and limited amount of staff time, McRann said, the CFSO doesn’t feel it has been as effective in communities outside Penticton as it could be.

“We need to be in those communities building trust and helping any way we can. Perhaps with granting but perhaps with other things as well. Maybe we can help a local charity with governance issues or helping produce a marketing brochure, it could be anything,” he said. “Sarah brings a variety of skills to the table that will help us do that.”

Trudeau has held a variety of related positions, from being a volunteer communications chair with the Canadian Cancer Society, to working with a small marketing company in Peachland.

“This past year, I was working at Interior Savings head office in Kelowna, where I was a community relations person, so that role really transitioned well into my new role here, because a lot of what I did at Interior Savings was establishing relationships with communities in the South Okanagan and Similkameen,” said Trudeau. “I know a lot of people in these areas, so that will be a great first step forward.”

Trudeau, who was hired in January, said they are still in planning stages, but the first step will be to contact existing donors in those communities and let them know the CFSO is expanding its reach.

“From there it is going to be contacting mayors, councillors, the local chiefs, anyone that has a vested interest in their communities that are looking to sort of build a fund that will give back to their community for future generations,” she said. “We don’t want to go into communities and tell them what they need. We really want to go into those communities and establish committees who can help us direct funds in their communities.”

It’s a project that is likely to take some time to accomplish, and McRann said it’s a good thing the donors designed their matching funds grant to support the new position for three years.

“It’s going to take three years, realistically, to solidify the relationships and our positions in those communities and to find the best way to help them out,” he said.  “It’s great that the donor was willing to think long term like that.”


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