Donor Stories

St. Thomas Elevated Park Project

March 28, 2017

Two pieces of public art donated by local family with deep roots in the community

The St. Thomas Elevated Park, due to open in late August, will feature two major pieces of public art thanks to a donation and commission from a family whose roots go back five generations in this city. The Elevated Park Project fundraising effort is a Managed Fund within Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation.

The two metal sculptures will be created by artist and blacksmith Scott McKay whose studio is in Lawrence Station. The works are being donated to the Elevated Park project by Scott’s father, Ian, whose ancestors became prominent in the area as merchants, lawyers and publishers beginning in the mid 1800s.

Read More …

June Evangeline Anne Horton Fund joins our Family of Funds

February 10, 2017

New Fund celebrates woman who pursued her passions through all of life’s difficulties

June Evangeline Anne Horton (nee Ernest) was born in Surrey, England in 1924. As a child she survived yellow fever, jaundice and cerebral meningitis. While working at a publishing house in London, England, she met Edwin Horton, a Canadian soldier in the Signal Corps. Their courtship spanned the war years with many leaves spent on Ted’s motorcycle. They married in 1946 and June set sail for Canada as a War Bride. It would be 22 years before she saw England again. She began married life on a farm outside Glanworth, Ontario. Together, June and Edwin raised a family of nine children, made more difficult by losing their house to a fire in 1966 and the untimely death of Edwin in 1973. Mom continued on as a single parent, until her children were grown and started families of their own. She volunteered for many years at the Dearness Home, she reported local items for the Lambeth News and was a prolific correspondent who maintained friendships for over 70 years. She was an avid reader, gardener and nature lover. She was passionate about ballet, loved a glass of wine and a good laugh. She made a home for a succession of cherished dogs, often strays. Always active, she continued to swim up until her last summer. She passed on to her children and grandchildren, the love of learning and reading.  In her later years, while on a minimum pension, she could not turn down a request for donations, no matter the cause.  She gave what she could to the SPCA, Men’s Mission, World Wildlife, MS Society – you name it, she would write a cheque.  To carry on her giving nature, this fund is established with money from the sale of her family home and endowments will be made, in her name, to some of those same charitable organizations. Donations are always welcomed to this Fund.

The June Evangeline Anne Horton Fund was established to grant forever in the areas of ballet, animal welfare and kidney disease.

CELEBRATING the Jean Macdougall Fund!

May 6, 2016

A chance lunch date introduced Jean to Port Stanley where she purchased a home on the shore of her beloved Lake Erie.

Jean was a woman ahead of her time. She was interested in the environment and organic farming decades before it became part of the public dialogue. She was keenly interested in politics, in particular the enfranchisement of women and First Nations. Her gentle spirit was combined with a fierce intellect, impeccable manners, graciousness, determination and a wicked sense of humour.

Though Jean’s career as an RN inspired much of her work, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to ventures such as a family shelter, arts and crafts gallery, The Nellie McClung Academy- a residential girls’ school, and to create the products BellySling and SpineAlign.

Jean’s home was her sanctuary and she loved to sit and look at the lake and think. Her ruminations led to many initiatives, including the creation of a local think tank. She served on the board of many community organizations and was recognized with a Central Elgin Cultural Heritage award for her work in establishing the Stork Club Museum and Interpretive Centre.

Jean loved unconditionally and she created family wherever she was. Her loss continues to be felt by the many members of Jean’s families. Her favourite quote is attributed to her cousin, well known as a Canadian suffragette, Nellie McClung, “Never retract, never explain, never apologize – get the thing done and let them howl.”.

This fund will be used to empower, educate and support women; especially those interested in a future in the political arena.
At the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation everything we do is designed to help build more vibrant, healthy and resilient communities across Elgin County.

With the partnership of caring local people, we invest in community based solutions that create meaningful and lasting impacts.

Celebrating the NEW #I’VEGOTYOURBACK911 Endowment Fund

April 4, 2016


Our first responders have our backs in times of emergency. Theirs are the faces and voices we depend on when we are at our most vulnerable.

Jill Foster and Shaun Taylor have dedicated their time and energy over the last two years to make sure that every first responder knows that someone has THEIR back as well.

Their campaign started with modest intentions, support of paramedic colleagues Stephanie Romano and Denise Laing,  and a pledge to print some t-shirts and donate the proceeds to programs that support first responder’s mental health initiatives. Very quickly news of their project spread and grew into an international call for support. They built a website with resource links, have sold mountains of merchandise through their online store and donated the proceeds- many tens of thousands of dollars – to those organizations who support first responder’s mental health.

Their website reads: “First Responders are twice as likely to suffer PTSD. There’s no need to suffer in silence. The help you need is here. This website offers resources and services for the First Responder community to understand the various steps of a PTSD program from managing a crisis through to implementing best practices into an existing program.”

“Our granting has supported many worthy programs from therapy dogs to front line suicide prevention initiatives like TEMA’s documentary ‘The other side of the hero. “says Jill Foster co-founder of #IVEGOTYOURBACK911. “We wanted to ensure we could continue to support these and other charities, and working with the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation allows us to take this to the next level. By establishing an endowment fund, the ESCF is now collecting online donations for this campaign and can provide charitable receipting for the generous gifts that are helping to provide many of these grants. We have the potential to make a bigger impact and a longer term impact.”

The #I’vegotyourback911 Fund has been established to support charities with a focus on first responder’s mental health, and builds a legacy that will continue granting each year in perpetuity.

The establishment of their Endowment fund ensures ongoing and annual support for the charities and organizations they are passionate about.

“We are honoured to manage this endowment fund on their behalf that will continue to support their annual granting” states ESCF ED Karen Laine.


To contribute to  this fund visit our donor page here

#IVEGOTYOURBACK911. Jill and Shaun


100 People Who Care- Elgin County launch event!

March 8, 2016

Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation launches ‘100 People Who Care’ initiative!


Looking for a fun, quickESCF100LogoFinal, and exciting way to make a positive impact in St. Thomas and across Elgin County? Members of the community now have the opportunity to become one of the ‘100 People Who Care’, a new donor circle being established by the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation.

“The donor circle model is not new to community foundations, and in fact much of what we do is similar nature to this initiative,” says Karen Laine, Executive Director. “What we love about the ‘100 People Who Care’ approach is that it is a great fit for the young and community-minded demographic.”

How does it work? The answer is simple: 100 People contribute $100 each. The Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation will collect the funds and provide charitable donation receipts. Subsequently, the ‘100 People Who Care’ membership will be invited to attend a special launch event on Wednesday, April 13th, at 7pm at the CASO Station in St. Thomas. There will be a short information session, Q&A, and time for casual networking. Representatives of local charities are welcome to attend to learn more about the initiative, and curious members of the public can come out to join the fun as well. A cash bar will be open with proceeds from the bar supporting the CASO Station.

Following this event, the project really ramps up! Once we have reached our 100 member pledges, local charities will be invited to submit brief funding proposals to the Foundation. A short list of charities will then be chosen to present project ideas to the ‘100 People Who Care’ at a special granting event. For this occasion, each charitable organization will have the opportunity to make a five-minute presentation to the membership to pitch what they would do with $10,000 to foster positive change in the Elgin-St. Thomas community. At the end of the evening, the 100 People Who Care will vote, and the winning charity will receive $10,000 that night!


The ‘100 People Who Care’ initiative and other similar efforts have popped up all over the world. Several neighbouring communities, such as London, have been early adopters of this model. With the support of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation, this terrific approach to rapid community-building is now coming to Elgin County and St. Thomas!

“I am very happy to be one of the founding members of the ‘100 People Who Care’ in our community,” comments Andrew Gunn, a member of the planning committee. “We have a lot of extremely talented people locally who are interested in supporting great causes, but may not have a lot of time to get involved with traditional service clubs. The ‘100 People Who Care’ approach solves this problem by offering a way to network with like-minded people, learn about charitable organizations in our community, and then make an immediate impact by supporting the best ideas.”

Download a pledge form, or Register for the April 13th event at

Announcing the Elgin Welcome Fund!

February 26, 2016


As communities across Canada welcome Syrian refugees displaced from their homes, Elgin County volunteers are working to support the resettlement of privately sponsored refugee families in our own community.

St. Thomas-Elgin has a long history of private refugee sponsorship and is well-prepared to welcome and integrate refugees into the community.  Several local churches, and agencies such as the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, have committed to sponsor families.

With the support of the YWCA Settlement Services and the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership, a coalition of volunteers called “Unite For Refugees” has formed and is committed to sharing resources and strengths to support the refugee families as they start their new life.  Training has been provided to the many caring individuals in how to address needs for newcomers. A website has also been developed  that has many valuable resources for the community.

Elgin County and the City of St Thomas could see up to ten families arriving in the community over the coming months. Unite for Refugees is preparing to help these families access housing and navigate the many challenges of resettling in Canada.

Several families have already arrived, including a family of 6 sponsored by the YWCA. “It’s been such a pleasure to meet this wonderful family and we are surprised and delighted how quickly they are settling in and making friends, especially the children who are already loving road hockey and skating!” said Shelley Harris of the YWCA.

Unite For Refugees has set a goal to fundraise and support up to three refugee families, and fundraising is well underway. In addition to all the non-financial supports that these volunteers provide, there are real costs that sponsors must address and the goal is to raise funds to support the first year of life here in Canada. The greatest expense is housing.  Unite For Refugees has developed a fundraising campaign that includes several events, and is actively soliciting donations and support.

In support of local efforts the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation has established the ‘Elgin Welcome Fund’ and is accepting donations that will grant to charities providing support for refugees settling in Elgin County. An initial contribution of $1,000 from Kathy Collier/ESCF Board Member has established this Fund, and a very generous donation of $5,000 from Doug Tarry Homes had helped to grow this fund. “We are delighted to support these generous donors target their gifts where and when they are needed most” says Karen Laine, Executive Director of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation. “There is such an outpouring of community support across Elgin County to help these families who have been through so much. It certainly warms my heart and we hope to see this fund grow with the generosity of other community members“. This new fund will provide charitable receipts for any donation of $10 or more.

Kathy Collier, Shelley Harris and Doug Tarry Homes staff.2

Photo: Shelley Harris/YWCA, Kathy Collier and the staff/Board of Doug Tarry Homes

“Unite For Refugees is excited to join communities across Canada in welcoming our Syrian neighbours and helping them build a new life after suffering unimaginable hardships,” says Shelley Harris, one of the organizers of Unite for Refugees. “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation in our efforts and for the generous support already received from many in our local community.”

Upcoming fundraising events to look for:

  • Taste of Syria: Sample food and learn about Syrian culture from a guest speaker(s). The committee is looking for volunteers interested in helping out with this spring event. Contact Rachel at the YWCA for details.
  • Rock’n for Refugees: June 18th, 2016. A family event with 50’s and 60’s music provided by Frankie and the Fairlanes’. Stay tuned for ticket details.

To contribute to this campaign to support refugee family resettlement in Elgin County, charitable receipts will be provided with donations to:

Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation’s

Elgin Welcome Fund

Donate Now


Or, to the Unite For Refugees Fund

  • Mail chq to YWCA St. Thomas–Elgin, 16 Mary St., St. Thomas, ON N5P 2S3.


Elgin County Railway Museum establishes a Managed Fund

December 7, 2015

Elgin Railway Museum logo

Elgin County Railway Museum establishes a Managed Fund

with the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation

A new Managed Fund is being celebrated at the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.

“Our Full-Steam Ahead – Phase 1 Capital Restoration fundraising campaign is building momentum,” says Dawn Miskelly, Elgin County Railway Museum’s Executive Director, “One of the most important projects in our restoration plan is replacement of the building’s 52,000 square foot, century-old roof.  Since this is a sizeable project, we were looking at responsible investment options for these funds as they accumulate during the campaign.  A Managed Fund with the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation seemed like the perfect fit for us.”

“The Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation’s primary service is Endowment Funds- those funds that are held for the community into perpetuity” says Karen Laine, Executive Director, “however we provide many other services and leadership initiatives to support local charities and community resilience. One of these services is our Managed Funds – available to any Elgin County charity. “

Managed Funds are primarily established in support of large capital campaigns and fundraising initiatives, where there may be many months or years of fundraising required in order to complete a project. The ESCF will manage and invest those funds to maximize returns, allowing local charities to focus their efforts on their fundraising and marketing of their campaign.  The Elgin County Railway Museum has invested $91,000 of funds they have raised during their “Full Steam Ahead” capital campaign into their Managed Fund with the ESCF.  The funds will be leveraged as matching funds in future grant applications to replace the deteriorated roof of their heritage building.  Donors interested in contributing to this Fund, can do so directly through the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation or their website.

The Elgin County Railway Museum (ECRM), a member of both the Ontario and Canadian Museum Associations, has been operating for 26 years out of the century-old Michigan Central Railroad Locomotive Shops in the heart of St. Thomas. It is a working museum with volunteers performing building and rail equipment maintenance and restoration, collections accessioning, and model railway construction. With a collection of over 3,000 railway artifacts, the Museum welcomes more than 7,000 guests each year, and presents cultural events such as Railway Adventure Day, Railway Nostalgia Weekend, and a Day Out With Thomas. The organization’s 115 members, over 50 active volunteers, and Executive Director are dedicated to helping the organization grow and keep the memory of the railway alive.

For more information on the Elgin County Railway Museum’s fundraising initiatives- contact Dawn Miskelly, Executive Director at 519-637-6284, or

For more information on the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation and their services- contact Karen Laine, Executive Director at 519-637-8230, or

Signing Railway Museum Managed Fund Agreement

Photo: Signing the agreement to establish the Elgin County Railway Museum Managed Fund of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.

From Left/Back Row: Guy Moore- Elgin County Railway Museum Treasurer, Dawn Miskelly- Elgin County Railway Museum Executive Director, Wayne Kentner- Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation Treasurer, Karen Laine- Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation Executive Director.

Front Row: Shawn Jackson- Past Chair, Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation.

Elevated Park Project excitement building

August 28, 2015

Elevated Park Project picnic

(From recent Elevated Park Project newsletter:)
“Your Elevated Park project is alive and well

You’ve been reading about us a lot in local media recently.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation awarded us a grant to undertake a Management Master Plan. The winning proposal came from Peter J. Smith Company of Fort Erie, Ontario. As you read this, they are hard at work researching a full business and project plan for the conversion of the MCR bridge over Kettle Creek into what we expect to be Canada’s first Elevated Park.

Mark Your Calendars: the first full public consultation for the Master Plan will take place on Wednesday, Sept 30 at the CASO Station. This is your opportunity to give us your very best ideas of what the park should look like. More info soon.”

In support of their fundraising campaign, the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation is now accepting online donations to this community project.

Click our Donate Now button, or follow this direct link to donate. 


Celebrating the new Bud and Melba Marr Fund!

November 13, 2014

A new Endowment Fund has been established at the Elgin-St. Thomas Community Foundation.


Bud and Melba Marr

The Bud and Melba Marr Fund has been established to support regional and local charities with a focus on health care, community and youth, and builds a legacy that will continue granting each year in perpetuity.

Anyone who knows Bud and Melba will not be surprised.

Bud was raised on the family farm in Frome. This farm has been in

the family since 1837. Upon graduation from A.V.S.S. Bud continued to help his father on the farm but also worked full-time as a carpenter. After marriage to the former Melba Morrow, they purchased their own farm and Bud became a full-time farmer. It was here they raised their 3 children, Julie, Scott, and Jamie. Bud continues to manage the farm’s operation.

Bud has always been active in Frome Church, including from time to time choir and Sunday School superintendent. He proudly served on the Shedden Fair Board for a number of years and is a Past President. Bud’s community service eventually led to his election to Southwold Township Council, and he served two terms as Warden of Elgin County. In this position he served on all county committees as well as outside boards including the St. Thomas –Elgin General Hospital and the Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit.

Bud was a trusted financial planner in the community for nearly 20 years. He has been active in many service clubs including Free Masons, and as a Charter member and Past President of the Rotary Club of London South.

Melba too was raised on a farm in Southwold Township just north of Shedden. As her father worked 2 jobs as a bus driver and as a farmer, part of each year was spent in St. Thomas and part on the farm. She graduated from Balaclava St. School, St. Thomas Collegiate Institute and London Teacher’s College.

Her first teaching position was Grades 1, 2, 3 at Fingal Public School. Two years later she married Bud Marr and moved to the Frome area. Two more years at Fingal and she resigned to be home with the children.

During the next 10 years as the children grew, she supply-taught at local schools and supported community activities. In 1969, with the opening of the new Southwold Public School she returned to full-time teaching. While teaching her Grade 4 classes she enrolled as a part-time student at Western University and eventually received her B.A. degree.

Among her community activities she has been a continual worker in many areas of Frome Church. She chaired the research committee searching for names of Southwold War Veterans for the memorial book and was a volunteer with the subsequent Remembrance Day services at the Southwold Keystone Complex. She currently serves on a committee to establish a much- needed library for Southwold Township. Since retirement, Melba has been a volunteer at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital.

In August 1990 their farm took a direct hit from a devastating tornado with subsequent loss of buildings, equipment, and farm crops. Incredibly, by March 1991, a new house was built though clean-up continued for many years.

It is clear that throughout their lives Bud and Melba have quite naturally enriched their community with the care they take in their work, with their contributions to their church, and community projects.

In this same spirit of community their new endowment fund the Bud and Melba Marr Fund will continue to support local and regional initiatives that are important to them, and will enrich this community………….forever.

THANKS to everyone who helped us Celebrate our First 10 Years!

May 14, 2014

2014. Speaker Terry Jackson.3Many Thanks to all those who
attended our 10 Year Celebration at the CASO station on Thursday!

Thanks to our speaker Terry Jackson, Board Member of Community Foundations of Canada for his inspiring words that helped us to feel a part of a strong national network with great vision.

An EXTRA SPECIAL THANK YOU to all of the Founding Donors, Donors, Donor Advisors, Founding Board Members, Board Members, Volunteers, Corporate Partners, Community Partners and Professional Advisors who have helped to BUILD the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation!

Your work helps to build more vibrant, healthy and resilient communities across Elgin County.

And finally……Thanks to the wonderful caterers who provided our ‘tasting menu’- The Arts and Cookery Bank, Farmgate Markets, James Meadows Catering, Quai Du Vin and Railway City Brewery.

Head to our Facebook Page to see more photos!

2014.Karen Laine2014.Louise Ferriman. Elaine McGregor-Morris