$25,000 in prizes for Community Living Campbellford/Brighton

BY: Roderick Benns

TORONTO—It was all Chris Grayson could do to contain himself Friday as the spirited executive director accepted $25,000 in prizes for excellence in social service delivery on behalf of his association.

Community Living Campbellford Brighton won not only their category for which they had been short-listed for – Services For People With Disabilities – but also the overall Donner Canadian Foundation Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services. The first award was for $5,000, the latter, $20,000.

“It’s another first for Community Living Campbellford Brighton,” a beaming Chris says after the ceremony. “We’ve been working to these standards for many years,” he says. One of the secrets of success for the association (and part of what judges base their decisions upon) has been to measure a group’s success in going after money from non-government groups. Chris says Community Living Campbellford/Brighton has raised $1.606 million in just over three years, from June 2000 to September 2003. “We need to become less reliant on government,” Chris says. “Now, especially, we’re going to be able to talk to funders like we have never before,” he says, referencing the exposure and the significance of the award they just won.

The executive director says it is important to continue to build strong social capital in the communities in which the association serves. The Rotary Club and the local economic development department are just two of the organizations the association has strong ties with.
“In fact, part of what this money will do is host a best practices conference,” next fall, says Chris, with social capital as part of the theme. “We’ll get leaders together to talk. We need to figure out more ways to be participatory and develop our own social capital.”

The $5,000 award will go directly to ACE, or Advocates for Community Education. This is a group that exists within the association itself and is run completely by individuals with intellectual disabilities. ACE makes presentations in communities to draw awareness to the association and its activities.

The Donner Awards program serves to encourage the spirit of initiative and independence, and represents a move toward the development of an objective measure of performance for non-profit groups. In addition, private foundations or corporations may use these awards as a tool for non-profit agency assessment in their funding allocation process.