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Chesterfield grants for library, playground

The St. Marys Public Library and Holy Name of Mary Catholic school’s playground fundraising committee are the co-recipients of the first installment of grants from the Annie and Isabelle Chesterfield memorial fund. The fund, named in honour of two former St. Marys residents, was created in 2010 and is administered by the Stratford and Perth County Community Foundation (SPCCF).

Each of this year’s Chesterfield grants is for $3,000. According to SPCCF executive director Elizabeth Hachborn, there were eight applications for the inaugural year of the fund, one of the Foundation’s donor-advised funds, which is meant for projects and organizations in the Town of St. Marys.

The official ceremonies to announce the successful applicants will take place Friday Jan. 13 in the lobby of the Stratford Festival Theatre during the SPCCF’s third annual Mayor’s Gala. The event begins at 7:30 p.m.

Also on the agenda that evening will be the official announcement of a $2,200 grant for the St. Marys Youth Centre to be used for the planned X-Park for skateboarding and BMX biking. SPCCF tapped into three separate sources for that grant: another of the SPCCF’s donor-advised funds, the Jim and Laurel Laughton Family Fund, which is geared towards youth-related causes; its own Community Fund; and an independent fund called AIA High Five for Kids.

“The latter is not local but, for the past three years or so, they have chosen (the SPCCF) to help distribute their grant,” explained Hachborn. “I guess they just feel that how we approach awarding grants fits nicely with what they’re trying to achieve.

The Foundation executive director praised the supporters of the St. Marys X-Park for building strong momentum over a short time period.

“That group has been so active drumming up support, both with fundraising and in-kind donations,” Hachborn said. “They’ve come a long way and, because of that, (the Foundation) felt they deserved our support.”

She offered similar levels of praise for the co-recipients of the inaugural Chesterfield grant.

The Library will use its $3,000 to purchase a second DAISY electronic reader for people with visual impairments, as well as several e-readers, for use by patrons of the Library’s new home delivery service.

“We thought that was a great program and we really thought that it aligned so nicely with what (Isabelle Kennedy) wanted to support with the (Chesterfield Fund),” Hachborn commented. Kennedy was born Isabelle Chesterfield and raised in St. Marys along with her five siblings by her mother Annie, who became a single mom following the death of her husband. Isabelle, who was able to graduate as an accountant from the University of Western Ontario in the 1930s thanks to Annie’s perseverance, eventually settled in New York State but dictated to her children that money be donated to support a variety of social groups in St. Marys when she passed away.

“(Isabelle) was concerned with seniors,” Hachborn said of the decision to support the Library’s program. “She saw her mother grow older in the community of St. Marys, and she just so appreciated the supports that she had there.”

As for the Holy Name playground, Hachborn suggested the Foundation’s $3,000 contribution addresses Isabelle Kennedy’s desire to support a variety of age groups within the community. “The playground, in the early stages of construction across Egan Avenue from the school, is in a part of town where there is a lot of that kind of thing for kids,” she said.

According to Hachborn, there were eight applications for the inaugural Chesterfield Fund grants. “And, of course, the capital from that donation is still there, and will be available for future grants,” she added.

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