Conn Smythe Foundation Summer 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends of the Conn Smythe Foundation,

Welcome to our 2017 summer newsletter, an overview of our June meeting in which the Board Members and Directors discussed and mutually agreed upon the path forward we will take in 2017. We are delighted to be carrying on with some of our more recently established relationships, as well as looking into our past to reengage with valued organizations with whom the CSF has long, and fruitful history. We are also delighted to be granting a first time charitable donation to an organization new to the CSF. In this newsletter, we highlight the missions, goals, and targeted areas of our donations to these organizations.

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids):

During our meeting, we welcomed Jen Ashcroft, an Associate Director for Sick Kids Foundation, which will soon be kicking off one of the largest pediatric fundraising campaigns in North America. The Hospital for Sick Children first opened its doors in 1951, and today is Canada’s largest centre dedicated to improving children’s health, staffed with professionals from all disciplines of health care and research. According to Jen, there are a total of 18 operating rooms that conduct more than 12,000 surgeries per year. Last year, SickKids admitted over 16,000 patients, and with this number increasing each year, on rare occasions it is forced to turn families away. In order to construct a new, state-of- the-art building on University Avenue, the upcoming SickKids Vs. Limits campaign will endeavour to raise 1.3 billion dollars, helping the hospital to provide health care to every child in the future.

The CSF has a long history of support towards SickKids, in various areas, most specifically Rheumatology. This honoured the legacy of the late Dr. Hugh Smythe, youngest son of Conn Smythe. Considered a pioneer in the field of rheumatology, Dr. Smythe was an accomplished man who among other things, dedicated his life to the study and treatment of rheumatism.

We are extremely pleased to carry on our tradition of giving to the Hospital for Sick Children. Our pledge will be directed to the suspected child abuse and neglect program (SCAN) and Patient Amenities. The SCAN program helps hundreds of SickKids children who have endured abuse. As the Patient Amenities Fund is a resource to help prevent financial needs further compromising a child’s health, those patients referred to SCAN may have further requirements such as travel expenses, alternative child care, and relocation expenses. Thank you to Jen Ashcroft of SickKids Foundation, for enlightening us on the extraordinary goals they aim to achieve. If you wish to learn more about the scope of the fundraising campaign, please visit

Wellspring Cancer Support Network:

The CSF met with Victoria Scullion, a representative on behalf of the Wellspring Cancer Support Network. Wellspring first opened its doors in Toronto in 1992 as the Coach House, and today has grown to eight centres across Canada. Their mission is to create the best programs to meet the psychological, emotional, and educational needs of individuals and families living with cancer, and to deliver those programs to people in Canada. Their services are free, with no referral needed, and they received over 40,000 visitors last year. A large percentage of cancer patients can also experience anxiety, pain, financial worries, feelings of isolation and guilt, and other non-medical consequences in addition to receiving treatment for the disease. Victoria shared that 1/3 of all cancer patients are in their “working” age, which can create financial stress to the family. Wellspring offers over 40 different programs designed to help each person’s specific needs to manage stress, restore their health, and take an active role in improving their quality of life. The CSF has pledged to support the Wellspring Cancer Support Network, with our donation directed to their Cancer Exercise program, which is for Wellspring members at any stage of their treatment. Thank you to Victoria for visiting us and answering our questions during the meeting.

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital:

The Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital has an over 100 year history in Toronto, and has evolved through major changes over those years with many locations and name changes. Over 7,000 children come through their doors each year, making it Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital focused on improving the lives of kids with disabilities. Their mission is to provide specialized programs and clinical care for children and youth with complex care needs to enable them to participate in life to the fullest. Conn Smythe was heavily involved with the hospital, then known as the Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre, and his philanthropic involvement carried over to his grandson, Tom Smythe, a long-time loyal donor to Holland Bloorview. The CSF is proud to renew this longstanding historical bond with Holland Bloorview in 2017. Our donation will be towards their Weekend Respite day program. Respite care is a family support service providing temporary relief from the physical and emotional demands involved in caring for a child’s disability.

Eva’s Initiatives:

Eva’s Initiatives for homeless youth first opened in 1994, after community outreach worker, Eva Smith, noticed a rising trend of homeless youth in her home community of North York. Fast forward to today, Eva’s Initiatives has three separate facilities providing shelter, food, 24/7 crisis support, and essentials for living for 123 homeless youth aged 16-24 every night. Their mission is to work collaboratively with homeless and at risk youth to reach their potential to lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives.

Their primary goals are to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness. Eva’s Initiatives as an organization that the CSF has supported in the past, and we are extremely happy to renew our support for them.

Casey House, Kids Up Front:

Finally, after review and discussion amongst Foundation Members, we have unanimously agreed to carry forward into 2017 continued support of Casey House, and Kids Up Front. Both have been highlighted in our 2016 newsletters. Please look for our year end newsletter in December for our updates on news, progress, and successes achieved by Casey House, and Kids Up Front on their initiatives supported by the Conn Smythe Foundation.

Thank you for reading our summer 2017 newsletter. Please do not hesitate to contact us via our webpage should you wish to submit a request for funding and you believe the Conn Smythe Foundation is the right charitable body for your organization or idea. On behalf of all of us at the Conn Smythe Foundation, we wish you a safe, healthy, and productive summer.

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.

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Dear Reader,

Twice a year, the Conn Smythe Foundation holds a meeting of its Board of Directors and Members. It brings an opportunity to reflect on our past history of donations and the impact they made. It also allows us to review our donating strategy going forward as we discuss our candidates for donations.

Additionally, we welcome the chance to meet with founders and directors of charitable organizations to learn more about their mission, direction, and their current and future needs. This past June, just prior to the end of the school year, the CSF held its first meeting of 2016. During the meeting, the CSF had the privilege of meeting with representatives from Casey House and Kids Up Front, giving us a better insight to the invaluable services that each organization provides.

From Casey House, we were introduced to Tracy Hatten, Senior Development Officer, and Katie Connelly, an RN in the Home Care Program. Casey House opened its doors in 1988 as Canada’s first stand-alone treatment facility for people living with HIV/AIDS. It provides a warm and welcoming home-like environment where people with HIV/AIDS are cared for with dignity and compassion. Despite the development of effective medical treatment for HIV/AIDS, there is no cure, and the rate of HIV infections in Ontario remains close to what it was in the mid 1990s. Casey House embraces a client-centred, culturally sensitive, and holistic approach to care-giving as their clients may also be living with multiple health conditions and challenges such as poverty, mental health or substance abuse, discrimination, and marginalization. People living with HIV/AIDS still face a stigma in society.PSX_20160626_182353 In fact, Tracy shared with us that it can be a major hurdle for potential clients to even walk through the doors of Casey House, as receiving care from Casey House is confirmation of HIV+ status. We also learned that 25% of their clients are women, many of whom are the principle caregiver for a child or children. Through Casey House, they can access child care support for their child during their treatment. Casey House provides care through their residential In-Patient program, which is further augmented by the Home Care program, Recreational Therapy, and Outreach Health Services. In the Recreational Therapy program, Tracy told us a story of a client, who had been making a tie-dyed shirt, being overwhelmed and stating “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever made something beautiful”. Aboriginal people are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. In fact, Aboriginal people make up 20% of Casey House community clients and 10% of in-patient clients. Casey House has held a symposium on Aboriginal experience for health care and support service providers, which was well-attended and enthusiastically received. Tracy stated that Casey House will provide an Elder, or Healer for their client, whatever their cultural needs may be. Since 1996, the Conn Smythe Foundation has supported the wonderful and important work being done by Casey House, and we are proud to continue to support Casey House.

Thank you to Tracy and Katie for sharing your experiences, answering our questions, and for your thoughtful insight.

Celebrating 10 years of the Kids Up Front Foundation, we were introduced to Lindsay Oughtred, Executive Director of Kids Up Front Toronto. Their mission as a charitable PSX_20160626_182325organization is to provide access to art, culture, sport and recreation to children who otherwise do not have the opportunity to experience them. Lindsay shared a story of how, in 2006, she approached then CSF Chairman of the Board, the late Tom Smythe, with this mission as her idea. With Tom’s support and abundant enthusiasm, the Conn Smythe Foundation can happily claim to have been the very first supporter for Kids Up Front Toronto. Thanks for sharing Lindsay! Kids Up Front now has close to 200 agency partners and provides over 55,000 children a year with opportunities to inspire and educate. It provides positive life experiences for kids with financial, social, or health barriers, and allows parents and family members to bond with them. Lindsay quoted comments from parents saying “We could never have given this to our kids” and “Because you made my son’s dream come true, my dream came true too”. The CSF is proud to carry on supporting Kids Up Front.

Camp Towhee, located in Haliburton Ontario, is affiliated with the Child Development Institute (CDI) and provides an outdoor setting accommodating approximately 100 campers aged 10-17 with learning disabilities and mental health issues (LDMH). Campers participate in a combination of Adventure Based learning, Outtripping and Outdoor Living Skills, Waterfront Program, and Experiential Arts Program. The CSF has previously invested in the purchase of a water trampoline for their Waterfront program and, in December 2015, donated to help with the refurbishment of Camp Towhee’s basketball court to be ready in time for summer 2016. In our June 2016 meeting, the CSF agreed to help upgrade Camp Towhee’s Rope Challenge course. This is the top experience for many campers in the Adventure Based learning program, with elements up to 40 feet off the ground! However, no campers are required to participate in activities they are not comfortable with. A camper may choose to not actually climb, but instead perform the role of support person for other campers, which can be just as rewarding and beneficial for them. This is central to Camp Towhee’s “Challenge By Choice” philosophy. For children with LDMH, the experiences they have, the goals they achieve, and the friendships they make, while participating at Camp Towhee, provides them with invaluable benefits and life-long summer memories. We look forward to hearing more about the children’s experiences this summer and the impact these enhancements to their facilities have made. Andrew Smythe, who serves as a Director on the CSF Board, is a Camp Towhee supporter. Many thanks to Andrew from the CSF as he has been instrumental in bringing the specific needs of the camp to our attention.

These three above highlighted organizations, Casey House, Kids Up Front, and Camp Towhee, will receive donations as determined in our June 2016 meeting. The Conn Smythe Foundation is pleased to announce that we have also pledged to continue our support for Jessie’s Centre, Emily’s House, and the Regent Park School of Music.

Look for our year end newsletter, as we will highlight more of the unique and diverse organizations we are proud to have supported this year. The Conn Smythe Foundation would like to extend our sincere wish for you to have a safe and wonderful summer.