A revamped and reinvigorated Amherstburg Community Foundation led by community-builder and philanthropist Richard Peddie has been launched to raise money for signature projects in Amherstburg.
Peddie, the former head of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and a Boblo Island resident, made the announcement Thursday night at the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
“Good community foundations contribute leadership and financial support to local initiatives and encourage people to give back to their communities,” said Peddie. “Our foundation’s vision is a simple one. It’s to help make Amherstburg a great place to visit and an even better place to live.”
While foundation fundraising certainly can’t replace taxes, he added, it can “give a community some topspin” and “provide positive momentum to opportunities.”
The foundation elected a slate of directors Monday night and Peddie will serve as the foundation’s unpaid president. The foundation will be run by volunteers to keep expenses low so it can “return almost every dollar we raise right back into the community,” said Peddie.
The former foundation board featured representation from Town Hall, but this newly-constituted board is made up community leaders from outside the political realm. The board is still seeking two or three additional community leaders but the slate so far includes Jen Desjardins, Lori Wightman, Dan Gemus, Chris Gibb, Tom Manherz and Dave Beneteau.
The seven directors are “putting their money where their mouth is” and have personally committed to donating $140,000 over the next three years, with $60,000 coming this year alone, said Peddie. They will actively be seeking donations from town businesses and individuals.
The foundation has already short-listed five projects that will “collectively address education, physical health, our town heritage, active play and very topical social issues,” said Peddie. The foundation will release more information at a kickoff event in June at the Libro Centre and will eventually invite the public to submit projects for consideration.
Projects supported by the foundation will have to meet three core values, said Peddie. They will have to be healthy, inclusive and inspiring.
“To be an even better Amherstburg, to be the best small town in Ontario to live and visit, we need to change our conversation from being largely about short-term self-interests to forward-thinking public interest, to change from small interest projects to the big picture opportunities,” said Peddie.