About a year ago I had lunch with Judi Shields. We go back to 1972 when I hired Judi to “cover” news in Innisfil Township. And Judi went at it with the same enthusiasm she now uses to direct the public relations needs of the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society.

It was in this capacity that Judi called me for lunch. She was pulling together a team of people to help develop the structure for a charitable foundation for the Children’s Aid Society. And during lunch I learned alot about the funding of CAS and what’s available through its government coffers.

A charitable foundation would allow the CAS to give kids in care and kids at risk more than the basic food and shelter which is permitted under its government financing mandate.

For instance, a kid in foster care should be able to go to camp. A kid who’s brilliant at art should have the chance to pursue that skill through university or art college. A brilliant skater or hockey player should have the chance to make the best of it... you know what I mean. Kids whose lives have taken a downturn through no fault of their own should have the chance to turn that around for themselves.

As we look back on our lives, especially our youths, so often the things that make us who we are have nothing to do with the “basics.” They have to do with finding a new self esteem at Girl Guide camp, or overcoming an obstacle on a wilderness trip, or being able to discover that guitar lessons really launched you around a campfire with friends. Those things. Those things that become the fabric of who we become. Swimming lessons. Soccer. Animation. Computer classes. Dance.

A charitable foundation will allow those working with kids in Simcoe County to draw on resources to make a child’s experience in foster care much more whole.

Right now, children who show exceptional ability get a chance only if someone at Children’s Aid finds somebody in the community willing to underwrite a year at Mariposa Skating, or a year at an arts school.

So... a group of us have been meeting for the best part of a year to develop the structure of what a charitable foundation would look like. Dale Biddell has been leading us through the process. George Cameron has pilotted the legal maze for charitable status. David Corkett, Charles Drury, Ruth Anderson, Carolyn Herrington, Gareth Thomas and Bill Becks have applied their corporate and public sector backgrounds to various articles of operation. Carolyn Garvey has cast her eye over financial issues. Judi Shields continues to tie us all together with the help of her assistant, Kim McLelland.

Before we go public with this foundation, we’re currently looking for a “look”. We’re asking the community at large to participate in the development of an icon which will identify the foundation in Simcoe County.

Our “logo” contest is open to any graphic artist--professional or amateur--who has an idea of what would best illustrate the work that the Simcoe County Children’s Aid Foundation will do. To this end, three generous Barrie businesses have donated gifts to comprise the top prize for the winning graphic artist. Scott Field, who owns Canada’s Most Wanted Computers at Bayfield and Wellington streets, is donating a digital camera. Mike Guilbault, who owns PhotoGenics Photography Studio on Anne St., is donating a commercial photo shoot. And Barry Peacock and Kempenfelt Graphics are giving a $300 four-colour print job.

These great prizes will be valued by any graphic artist, and we’re delighted that people in the community are willing to help make this as public an endeavour as possible.

Of course, I’m lending my expertise to this part of our foundation development. You, or any graphic artist that’s in your acquaintance, can access the guidelines and entry form in two ways. You can click on the CAS logo contest button on the first page of my website (www.donnadouglas.com) or you can pick up a package at any Children’s Aid office in Simcoe County.

Submission deadline is September 28. We’ll keep you posted on the winner.

...

Another thought... this column marks the beginning of my fourth year as an Advance columnist. When Lori Martin first called to see if I’d be interested doing this, my first thought was... “can I find enough to write about?” Well, 157 columns later, I continue to be humbled by our incredible community and the “stories” behind its people.

Thank each of you who is a regular or a sometime reader. You continue to confirm my belief that the world is hungry for good news. And so I’ll keep on sharing good news with you.

And, oh? Mouse... 11. Donna... 12!

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