Miami and Area Foundation board vice chair Gordon Simpson was named Citizen of the Year at the Foundation's annual Gala. (ALLAN DAWSON)
The Miami and Area Foundation celebrated another successful year on Nov. 4 at their annual Gala.
The Foundation incorporated in 2009 and held their first fundraiser in fall of 2010. The next year, the Foundation started awarding the Citizen of the Year distinction and gave out their first grant money.
Since then, the Foundation has given out $48,000 in grant money to deserving organizations and projects in Miami and the surrounding area.
At the gala, the Miami Foundation gave away $14,000 to six different organizations.
“Miami has always been a “can-do” kind of area,” Miami Foundation treasurer Tricia Livingston said. “We have all kinds of different things going on, and they have great volunteer bases but they don’t always have enough capital. This way of building up an endowment like this, we’re at the point where every year we should be able to give back $14,000. That is the great gift of building up an endowment and having philanthropy like that. It feels fantastic.”
Receiving funds this year at the gala were the Miami Railway Museum, Miami Children’s Facility, Miami Agricultural Society, Miami Curling Club, Lloyd Orchard Community Arena and Miami Golf and Country Club.
The Miami Foundation named their Citizen of the Year. This time, they decided to award the distinction to a member of the board, and kept that fact from him until the gala.
Vice chair Gordon Simpson was named the Miami and Area Foundation Citizen of the Year.
“Way back in the days when they built the grandstand, he was there,” Livingston said. “When the arena didn’t have much money, he worked for nothing at the rink. He was a member of the elevator board for 25 plus years. He’s worked tirelessly on our board.”
“Anybody who has given a donation to us for our gala will know who Gordon is because Gordon has come to see them,” Livingston added. “He’s passionate about the community and about the foundation. He is a true citizen of Miami and the RM of Thompson.”
Simpson said it was a great honour to be chosen. “I was totally surprised,” he said. “I had no idea they were doing this. I’m really humbled and honoured and I appreciate that they chose me. I never thought of myself in that way, I thought there were many other people who did more in the community than I did, so I was totally surprised when they called me up.”
Simpson has served as vice chair of Miami Foundation for around 4 years. “I’m 74 years old so I’ve been doing this sort of thing for a while now,” he said. “The last two to three years have been really rewarding for us. We’ve been able to build our fund quite substantially. Even in the last 18 months we’ve got our profile out there, we’re kind of known around.”
While the Foundation means a lot financially to the community, Simpson said it means more than just money. “We’re trying to keep our small town from fading away,” he said. “It’s a problem facing many small towns and we’re no exception. We’re trying to build it up as much as we can and give it a reason to go on.”
“We know these people who apply for grants have a real need,” Simpson added. “In some ways [it’s] almost life or death for what they’re trying to do. If we can support them and help them out, that’s really great.”
Simpson said people in the community generally want to get involved, especially younger people. “We have a lot of young people who work in Winkler, Carman or Morden, but they live here and they want to be part of the community,” he said. “They want their kids to grow up here and grow up here and take part in the events that take place. We feel really good that we’re able to support those places and keep them running.”
Simpson said he was especially pleased with the work the Foundation was able to do the past summer. They partnered with the Thomas Sill Foundation to further the Youth in Philanthropy program at Miami School.