For Elizabeth Grace and Marc Tremblay, giving through the Ottawa Community Foundation has always been something of a family affair. First introduced to the concept by Elizabeth’s sister Anne – a former Foundation employee – the couple established the Grace-Tremblay Family Fund in 2005. Earlier on, Anne had also recruited their father to volunteer his time and expertise as editor of the Community Foundation’s annual report at the onset of his retirement.
“It was Anne who really encouraged all of us to get involved with giving back to the community in this way,” says Elizabeth. “Even though Marc and I were both at the beginning of our public service careers, she helped us to see that you don’t have to be a millionaire to make a difference. Donating through the Community Foundation also offered us the flexibility to start out slowly and gradually build our fund into something more substantial over time.”
Growing up and now raising their family in Ottawa’s bilingual downtown community is particularly important to both Elizabeth and Marc, and they’ve always drawn upon that cultural context in deciding how best to fulfill their charitable objectives. From the start, the couple set out the purpose of their fund to support Francophone interests in Ottawa, including social services, education, arts and culture. They have also used it to help newcomers to the community through French language training and cultural integration.
“New immigrants face countless challenges upon arriving in Canada,” says Marc, “and for those coming from such areas as North Africa and Haiti who don’t speak English, those difficulties are compounded. This is our way of investing in the future of our community while supporting the development of Francophone culture within Ottawa’s growing immigrant population.”
Over the years, the goals of their fund have been well served through the provision of grants to support child and youth programming at the Lowertown Community Resource Centre, along with funding a school breakfast and lunch program, a French theatre festival, and providing long-term support of an international humanitarian aid project in Peru organized by CÉGEP de l’Outaouais.
“The staff at the Foundation have always been so helpful with matching our interests to the needs in the community,” says Marc. “They’ve been able to connect us to organizations and programs we might never have known existed otherwise. And when we wanted to lend urgent support to the Haitian refugees who arrived here after the earthquake, they made it happen in the fastest and most efficient way possible. In addition, with the Foundation’s expert guidance of our family fund, we feel that our charitable donations will have a more sustainable and lasting impact on the community in the long term.”
“We both feel so grateful and fortunate to have the opportunities we’ve had to go to school and prosper here in Ottawa,” says Elizabeth. “It’s a great privilege for us to be able to focus on philanthropy at this stage in our life, and to share something with our children that will grow and reflect our family values. Even if it’s not a huge amount, it’s fun and truly rewarding to be in a position to give something back to the community in which you live.”