Shuswap Community Foundation

Growing money into community grants

Shuswap Community Foundation

Growing money into community grants

Endowment Funds 101

The success of Shuswap Community Foundation is based on a simple concept. They never spend your gift, but carefully invest it. As the income builds up they only distribute the income generated by the pooled funds. Any donation you endow with them is there for good, no matter how big or small the donation.

In 2018 BC Housing, the government agency which oversees the Shuswap Area Family Emergency (SAFE) Society, mandated that women with pets as well as children be accommodated in transition houses. A pet-friendly room was prepared and opened in the SAFE Transition House, and immediately occupied. There has been high demand for the room ever since. Shortly thereafter, working in consultation with the SPCA, the Pet Shelter for Families Impacted by Violence or Trauma project was set in motion. Building is slated to begin by the end of April.

In the past, the local SPCA has provided compassionate boarding at no cost to the society, and they will continue to do so if the need arises. However, having their pets within easy access will keep both animals and families impacted by domestic violence safer, and improve eventual outcomes. Research has shown that many women who arrive at a shelter have had a family pet abused or killed, and many delayed leaving an abusive relationship because of concern for a pet. An alarming number of these women reported their abuser had carried out their threats of harm. Furthermore, witnessing violence towards animals and particularly their pets can adversely affect children. Pets are a strong component of a person’s emotional support network, especially during challenging times.

The society’s grant application to Shuswap Community Foundation (SCF) met SCF’s requirements in three critical areas: Animal Welfare, Health and Wellness, and Social Equality. 32 individual endowments provided contributions to the largest grant Shuswap Community Foundation has disbursed to date.

Featuring three indoor heated and cooled dog kennels with access to an outdoor run for each dog, and a separate potty area, the Pet Shelter will allow clients easy access to their pets, enabling them to look after their dogs themselves knowing they are safe. There will also be water for sanitization and a wash sink, storage space for food and pet items, a perimeter fence for safety and security, and an additional storage room that could become a cat room in the future. In the meantime, cats and other small pets such as gerbils and rabbits will continue to be accommodated in the main house.


When Al Neale met his longtime partner, the late Beryl Herdan, he became involved with one of her most-loved projects – raising funds for the local branch of the SPCA. With Beryl leading the charge and many fundraisers later, a successful boat raffle helped raise money to build the local shelter in 1986 in the industrial park.

“I was getting tired of yard sales, book sales, selling hotdogs, sandwiches, coffee and organizing pet shows around McGuire Lake, and I thought there had to be a better way,” Al says.

That better way presented itself in the form of the Shuswap Community Foundation, which was incorporated in 1995 and issued its first grants in 1997, with Cindy Derkaz and Gary Brooke acting as co-chairs. Cindy, noting the result was an endowment fund that would provide funding to the local SPCA branch in perpetuity. “Al’s donation was the biggest sole donation at the time.”

The Al Neale Bursary Fund, was Al’s pet project because it began as a shoestring but supports several mature students in their quest for an education.
“It was just a few thousand dollars at the beginning, but I kept putting money in every year,” says Al. “Lynda Wilson was dean and under her guidance and nurturing, it has grown to the point it awards six or seven devoted students every year.”

In response to their own children’s issues with mental health, the Dearlings, as Al and Beryl referred to each other, asked the foundation to create an endowment fund to benefit the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The aim of this fund is to support operational funds and provide help to families with a loved one suffering from a mental health issue.

“It was like a snowball that grows into a snowman, it just kept rolling and getting bigger,” says Al humbly of his and Beryl’s financial commitment to community.  “All the funds are like your own children; each one has its own merit and individual characteristics. Some of your kids drive you crazy while others are no problem at all – but you have an affinity for all of them.”

Al says he and Beryl never expected anything in return for their gifts to the community, simply deriving satisfaction from their actions.

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