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Tribute honours ‘sparks’ to building a strong future for Prince Edward County

County Community Foundation president Brian Beiles, Hospital Foundation Chair Monica Alyea, with grandson Hamish, and Lanny Huff applaud as Catharine Huff thanks all those who support the community.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
A special tribute honoured Lanny and Catharine Huff Wednesday as “sparks” in Prince Edward County for building a strong future.

The well-known philanthropists were honoured by the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation and County Foundation on behalf of many area organizations for their generous commitment to community over many years. The tribute was titled ‘The Huff Family: Building a Strong Future for Prince Edward County.’

“You may already be aware of the grand contributions Lanny and Catharine have made to our community through multiple sports facilities, their support of three area hospitals, theatrical and musical venues and productions and, of course, a variety of programs that support those in our community and those in need,” said Hilary Fennell, emcee. “What you may not be aware of is that tangible generosity is matched by the generosity of spirit and the joy to those whose lives have been touched.”

The Huff family has supported health care, education, food security, transportation, arts, music, culture and sports, animal welfare, addictions and mental health among its many causes.

Their commitment continues with the creation of The Huff Family Fund and the announcement that the couple is one of four major sponsors for the County’s new hospital, joining the Hospital Foundation, Auxiliary and the municipality.

“What a magnificent occasion this is as we celebrate two sparks of the County,” said Monica Alyea, Hospital Foundation chair as she presented Lanny and Catharine each a spark plug. “This room is filled with people from every walk of life, from every corner of the County who have been touched somehow in a beneficial way by this family.”

Hospital Foundation chair Monica Alyea with the unveiled hospital campaign theme and logo.

The campaign theme “Back the Build” and logo were unveiled along with a commemorative plaque acknowledging the Huffs’ support.

“This new hospital is an investment in Prince Edward County and our citizens present and future,” said Alyea. “It is an investment in our health care and a huge investment in our economic growth and vitality.”

The foundation is tasked with raising $16.5 million -$12.7 million in construction and equipment costs and about $3M worth of equipment to be bought for the current hospital that will move into the new hospital, once opened.

Alyea reminded that the province doesn’t provide any funding for medical equipment and every dollar needed must be raised by the Hospital Foundation.

“It is the community, you and your neighbours and your friends and your family who make that happen,” she said. “And year by year, Lanny and Catharine have been with us to achieve those goals. We are so grateful…. Your generous gift to our new hospital campaign has given us tremendous momentum, tremendous spark, to see the Ministry of Health and Long Term care application process through to its positive conclusion.”

Brian Beiles, president of The County Foundation also acknowledged incredible contributions the Huff family has made not only to the County, but particularly to the foundation.

“Their contributions, and others, enable us to help with grants to the community over years which is quite a considerable undertaking,” he said. “It also enabled us to produce our first vital signs report in 2013 and to take a leadership role in working groups – and those working groups have made tremendous progress over time.”

With the Huffs’ support, the foundation will be producing a second vital signs report this fall to show the progress of current work and provide some evidence of community needs still to be addressed.”

He announced the formation of The Huff Family Fund, “a broad-based commitment to the future of Prince Edward County for encouraging and supporting the incredible work these organizations are already doing and will allow for approximately $50,000 of grants per annum over the next 15 years. It will be formally launched this fall.”

“This is such an exciting day, said Catharine Huff. “This is such a wonderful, wonderful occasion for us and thanks so much for all of the organizations that have participated. We hope that everyone feels like we do and loves your County and your community and do as much as you can to help the Community Foundation, the hospital and any other charities and organizations. It is a good thing, and a good feeling.”

Andrew Chunilall, Chief Executive Officer of Community Foundations of Canada

The afternoon’s guest speaker, Andrew Chunilall, Chief Executive Officer of Community Foundations of Canada, noted “One of the great Canadian innovations that we take for granted is universal health care. It is a challenge, but we treat it as something that is part of our identity and of being Canadian, so it’s a real honour to be here to talk about making health care possible for everyone.”

He spoke of demographic challenges due to an aging population and significant constraints and pressures on the health care system. He also noted The Community Foundation is a movement of close to 200 foundations spread across the country.

“Community Foundations cover approximately 90 per cent of the country with the 10 per cent that is not covered in the north,” he said. “In the same way your County Foundation supports a range of local initiatives and projects, consider that it is one of a broad network that plays a pivotal role in the Canadian Foundations across the country.”

“The good news is levels of civic engagement and leadership at the local level are strong, said Chunilall. “Look around the room. This is a testament to your commitment and your own civic pride. Without your engagement and benefactors like the Huffs, we would not be where we are today, so thank you for all that you do and your good work.”

Catharine Huff and Lanny Huff with Foundation Executive Director Penny Rolinski, Communication Co-ordinator Briar Boyce, Foundation Chair Monica Alyea and Marthe Robertson, the Back the Build campaign co-ordinator.


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