Conn Smythe Foundation Winter 2016 Newsletter

Conn Smythe with children in wheelchairs

Friends of the Conn Smythe Foundation,

With 2016 coming to an end, the Members and Directors of the Foundation have held our annual Fall/Winter meeting, allowing us the opportunity to finalize and review the charitable organizations we have chosen to support this past year.

Over the past five years, we have committed to a change in our donating strategy in terms of the numbers of charities we support and the donation amounts given to each organization. In the years prior to 2012, the CSF would routinely disperse small set amounts to dozens of organizations each year.

Since this change was implemented, we have made larger donations to a smaller, more focused group of charities, so that our contributions can be more meaningful and have more of an impact. Furthermore, we have been placing a higher importance on continuity of support to our chosen charitable organizations. By committing for two, three or more years, we strive to form relationships with each charity to better understand their specific needs and assist in their budgeting efforts towards new initiatives and programs.

With this philosophical goal in mind, we are proud to pledge our continued support to our small, diverse group of unique charitable organizations in 2016, some of which we have previously highlighted in our summer newletter: Emily’s House, Casey House, Regent Park School of Music, Jessie’s Centre, Kids Up Front, Children’s Book Bank, Child Development Institute (Camp Towhee Program).

Now welcoming up to 300 children and youth annually, Emily’s House is Toronto’s first children’s hospice, with ten palliative care beds. Having supported Emily’s House since its inception in 2013, the CSF has contributed to growth in all areas of their operations, including their Recreational and Play Therapy programs. These are a broad range of activities including arts and crafts, music lessons, and even a week long summer camp. Together, these help to reduce anxiety and alleviate pain and suffering experienced during a prolonged illness, while allowing the children to participate, play, and just be kids.

“When there is no cure, there is support, compassion, and care… there is Emily’s House” – Rauni Salminen, CEO Emily’s House and Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care.

Founded in 1999, Regent Park School of Music started with 71 students in a church basement. It now reaches up to 1300 children and youth per year, providing music history and theory classes and lessons for multiple instruments. Proudly providing support since 2014, this year the CSF helped 30 kids have a music education at the school. “Helping kids succeed through music”, Regent Park School of Music continues to grow and evolve, with several new and highly anticipated projects culminating in the next months and years.

Jessie’s Centre helps over 1100 women and children each year, offering a range of programs and support for pregnant teens and teen mothers. The CSF has been involved in funding directed towards their “A Dressing Success” program. Jessie’s Centre has now launched their second Economic Community Development Program. Entitled “Social Enterprise – All About Kindness”, it is a program designed to train young mothers as doulas. A doula, provides prenatal, birth, and postpartum support to women requiring help. The CSF is proud to help support Jessie’s Centre and anticipates great success with this new initiative.

The CSF has lent support to Camp Towhee in three separate projects in three successive years. Located in Haliburton, Camp Towhee is affiliated with the Child Development Institute and accommodates about 100 campers aged 10-17 with learning disabilities and mental health issues. We have received an update regarding the Ropes challenge course. The “Dangle Duo” entails two participants who must climb a ladder at the same time. The rungs become further apart the higher you climb requiring teamwork and problem solving for both to reach the top. The CSF has also donated funding for a new basketball court surface, which will be ready in time for summer 2017.

Looking back over our long ambitious history, we celebrate our continuing commitments to our chosen charities of today, while having an eye on our future. The Conn Smythe Foundation looks to embark on new and exciting paths forward. Whether it be small burgeoning charities seeking a chance to flourish, or larger more established ones with new initiatives requiring support from private foundations such as our own, our Members and Directors look to work with individuals or organizations within our communities. There is not a specific mission statement, and there are no set guidelines. Members and Directors are each treated as an equal partner, who can bring their thoughts, opinions, and ideas for our group moving forward and have them received openly by the passionate, caring people within the Foundation. We remain focused on medical, education, sports and arts programs aimed at women and children. Please reach out to us if you believe our Foundation is the right fit for your organization or your own idea.

From all of us within the Conn Smythe Foundation, thank you for reading our Winter 2016 Newsletter. May peace and joy surround you throughout this holiday season and into the New Year.