Huff Family Fund leverages over $140,000 for local projects

The County Foundation hands out 10 grants for breadth of community initiatives thanks to philanthropists’ vision and generosity




Through the generosity of two long-term, dedicated philanthropists, The County Foundation has leveraged over $140,000 of investment for a wide breadth of community development projects.

At Huff Estates Winery, Thursday, Lanny Huff watched as 10 organizations benefitted from $68,000 he and wife Catharine committed to the new Huff Family Fund, a 50/50 matching initiative for works in the areas of mental health and addictions, animal welfare, arts and culture, human and health services, housing, learning, transportation, and food security.

The County Foundation’s president Brian Beiles said there was much interest in the fund that developed after a series of communications with the Huffs in the past year.

“We received over 30 grant applications. The requests far exceeded the availability in the first year. We were somewhat overwhelmed by the amount and quality of applications,” he said. “The process entailed an evaluation from our grants committee the was drawn from across the county. Recommendations were presented to the board in consultation with the Huff family.”

Strong county supporter – Lanny Huff listens during the announcement of the first 10 recipients of grants from the Huff Family Fund. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette staff)

Beiles told the Gazette the Huffs have been a major donor for the local community foundation since its inception. Impressed with the work it accomplished, Catharine Huff approached directors with a vision of a dedicated fund to support local projects she believed in with grants handed out over a 15-year time frame.

“Basically, she wanted the funds to be distributed within her lifetime. This would accelerate the payments,” Beiles said. “Then, Lanny matched what Catharine had put up and doubled the fund.” He noted the Huffs often like to give quietly, but saw the potential in setting an example.

“This kind of thing is not what they like to do, but to the extend they could encourage other people to step up they were willing to do it. They’re quite private people,” he said.

He added all of the organizations applying had to ensure they had cash or in-kind support matching the money they were asking for to ensure they “had some skin in the game and were committed.” The County Foundation will also attempt to leverage its other funds to get maximum impact out of the Huff investments and it will encourage others to contribute financially. For this first year, for example, $2,000 each from the Wynne Thomas Arts Development Fund and Jack and Ruby Lockyer Ward Fund were also committed.

At the grant presentation ceremony, Lanny Huff said he and Catharine — who recently suffered a fall and was not able to attend — were thrilled with the work the foundation has been doing and happy to play their part in creating a solution.

“It’s great work these people are doing,I can’t say enough,” he said. “The County Foundation is doing great things. They started off really slowly, getting people aware and involved. Now they’ve got some really good things happening. Wait five years and it is going to be a major factor in helping this community go ahead.”

Huff said he enjoyed seeing the fund support initiatives they’ve always supported like animal welfare and the arts, but was also particularly interested in the Love Song Seniors Housing initiative.

“The county is desperate for affordable housing, for seniors, but also for younger people. We’re driving people out of the county with rental and housing prices. “Where I live now in West Lake there’s not anybody between me and the sand dunes. I don’t have neighbours.They’re all Airbnbs. They’re there July and August. The rest of the time, there’s no one around. There’s no community left. People owning 20-30 Airbnbs doesn’t make any sense. We may need more rental accommodation, but I don’t see that as an answer.”

Beiles indicated The County Foundation is hoping to be a catalyst for community building and development through its Vital Signs process and by using initiatives like the Huff Family Fund to get organizations to work together. He said housing would be a major focus, but he was encouraged by the formation of the County Affordable Housing Corporation. The foundation has also worked with the police services board and other agencies on a community safety and wellbeing plan and a mental health strategy. Food security remains a priority.

“Our focus will be doubling down and seeing if we can move the needle on that.” Individual grant amounts were not released.

Collaborative approach – The County Foundation president Brian Beiles discusses impact achieved through the Huff Family Fund monies being matched by other donations, in-kind support and other The County Foundation initiatives. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette staff)

Here are some more details about the projects funded in the first intake…

– The Loyalist Humane Society received funding to increase their spay and neuter programs by 10 per cent to regulate the county’s feline population by reducing unplanned litters, thereby reducing animal suffering.

– Love Song Seniors’ Affordable Housing received money for functional program and design development in a $6.3-million effort to convert the former Pinecrest Memorial School to 50 units of co-operative housing.

– Prince Edward County Community Care for Seniors gained funding to purchase podiatry equipment and tools for a foot-care clinic in Rossmore. The service will help seniors in the northern areas of the county, including those with limited transportation options to Picton or Wellington.

– The Recreation Outreach Centre (ROC) will be starting a youth addiction and recovery program called SMART Recovery. It will provide methods, workshops and exercises to help teens self manage addiction recovery under the oversight of skilled facilitators.

– The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory will use its grant to transport youth to its grounds over the next two years for its NatureHood programming that introduces children to outdoor education experiences.

– The Community Development Council Quinte, a core partner of the Hastings-Prince Edward Poverty Roundtable will raise awareness of poverty reduction needs in the county. Workshops are planned across the municipality including key stakeholders and agencies combating poverty.

– The Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival received support to continue providing a concert free of charge for area students to learn to appreciate classical music.

– Wellington’s Storehouse Foodbank and the Prince Edward Learning Centre will partner to deliver youth and adult cooking classes over the next two years. The youth classes, for ages 8-12, are six weeks in duration, while the adult classes will run for eight weeks. There will also be opportunities for literacy building through reading and scaling recipes.

– The Regent Theatre received money to renovate its concessions with a goal toward increasing operating revenues for the 100-year-old Main Street theatre. Its grant was shared with the Jack and Ruby Lockyer Ward Fund.

– County Kids Reads intends to purchase board books for the very young. A program goal is improving the Early Development Index for vulnerable young children. The Wynne Thomas Arts Development Fund shared in this grant. The next application intake of the Huff Family Fund is anticipated this fall.