Whistler’s American friends have spread more money around the community again this year, including a $100,000 for the Audain Art Museum Foundation.
The grant from the American Friends of Whistler (AFOW) will be paid out in $20,000 increments annually over the next five years, and it will be invested with the permanent endowment of the museum’s foundation, created to ensure the long-term financial success of the museum.
“It certainly fits in with what the board has always felt is part of our mandate and it just felt to us, as our organization, that it was such a great thing for the resort and for visitors that in some small way we should make sure that we were supporting it,” said Gary Raymond, president of the AFOW, speaking from Scottsdale, Arizona this week.
“It was a very easy decision for the board to jump on and help.”
The AFOW’s contribution helped raise the tally on the Audain foundation’s fund, which has a goal of reaching $25 million. The fund now sits at more than $7.5 million.
Raymond explained the grant was staggered based on the AFOW’s ability to pay. The U.S. non-profit organization typically gives out $100,000 annually to various organizations in the corridor.
“What this allows us to do is make sure that we’re able to continue to support the other great causes in Whistler,” added Raymond.
Since its inception in 2002, when a small group of Americans who spend time in Whistler decided to set up the organization, the AFOW has granted more than $1.2 million in the community.
The list of grant recipients is long and varied.
It has given grants to the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program and the Get Bear Smart Society and the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group, and so many more.
This year, for example, the AFOW gave a $10,000 grant to the Whistler Health Care Centre (WHCC) nursing department for training to update staff on rural emergency medicine. In 2014 they received a $15,000 grant.
“The AFOW grants have been a blessing to the nursing staff,” said Janet Hamer, clinical services coordinator with the Whistler Health Care Centre. “We used some of this year’s grant to send five nurses to the St. Paul’s emergency conference held here in Whistler in September. The AFOW funds were used to send nurses to a course to update in paediatric and infant resuscitation. Fifteen nurses will be participating in a trauma workshop on Dec. 16. Working in a rural centre such as the WHCC means that competency is necessary in a wide range of scenarios. This education grant has enabled us to update different skills and knowledge. We are very grateful.”
There will be another board meeting in December to decide on more grants.
Executive director Mary Forseth said there has been renewed interest in the organization this year.
“I have received more inquiries this year than I have before,” said Forseth.
That could be due in part to the number of Americans travelling to Whistler, taking advantage of the strong American dollar.
December is also a time when the AFOW gathers for its annual “Inside Scoop” event that includes presentations from community members and a social.
Americans who donate to the AFOW receive a U.S. charitable tax deduction.