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Impact Stories

A Story of Brightening Smiles

Bright Smiles Antigonish County

Early in 2019, CFNS became involved with Green Shield Canada (GSC) to help them administer a new program in Atlantic Canada called the GSC Impact Fund in which they donated a total of $6 million dollars to priority projects across six Canadian communities. The initiative’s granting focused on oral and mental health.

One of the fund recipient's in Atlantic Canada was the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia Bright Smiles Project. The funding they received from the program allowed them to continue work in Pictou County, Nova Scotia that began in April 2017, and to expand their reach to Antigonish County, Nova Scotia in July 2019.

The Bright Smiles project allows adults who live with a documented mental illness and do not have the financial resources, access to dental services. As of November 2019, they had registered 77 adults in Pictou County and 16 in Antigonish County, and maintain a waitlist that is barely scratching the surface of the actual need.

Many of the participants have not had an opportunity to access dental services for a long period of time and it is evident by the condition of their oral health. Many are experiencing pain, infection, difficulty eating, sleeping and of course smiling because of the condition of their teeth. There is no specific funding of any kind in community that they can access, so they suffer in silence and isolation.

One of the recipients of the Bright Smiles Project, a woman named Marilyn, wanted to share the story of how this program has impact her life:

"Thank you" cannot begin to express my gratitude for the beautiful gift "The Bright Smiles" program has given to me! Being a survivor of early childhood sexual assault, followed by endless years of ongoing anxiety and depression, I sought professional help. With counselling and thru many tears, I finally realized that mental illness can be managed. With daily structured support programs, and the proper combination of medications, I found my way to a brighter day!

"Unfortunately" many of these medications have side effects, like dry mouth, which contributes to tooth decay, as did mine. Over time I resorted to covering my mouth to hide badly decayed, broken and missing teeth.

Living on a small disability, my basic needs were met, but dental care was far beyond my means. Meeting Cecilia McRae was a life changing experience for me!

Learning about "Bright smiles" and going on to realize that I qualified for the program's assistance, did two thing for me. It restored my faith in the generosity of mankind. Also - under the kind and compassionate care of Dr. Satana Rooyakkers I found a renewed sense of pride and self-esteem that I lacked for so long. The transformation has been remarkable! I can't believe the reflection staring back at me in my mirror! I can't stop smiling!! To all those that work endlessly to make Bright smiles possible; and to all those that it with your financial donations... Bless you all!

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Reflecting on the Welcome Fund's impact on the lives of Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia

June 20 is World Refugee Day, a time dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.

In honour of this day, we’re taking a look back at the impact of our Welcome Fund in collaboration with the Immigrations Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), which supported the settlement process of Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia from June 2016 to December 2017. Here are the highlights of the program from a report from ISANS:

“Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) face immense challenges as they transition to life in Nova Scotia.  Language barriers, loss of networks, economic insecurity, and lack of access to medical supports and services are all too common occurrences and experiences of refugees.  Many refugees are in temporary or short-term housing and are under-housed.  They often require assistance in finding more suitable and/or permanent housing options. While the majority of refugees in Canada may face multiple challenges, the housing challenge facing Syrian GARs in Halifax’s urban setting is pronounced. In particular, average rents are higher and unit size is smaller than is required by many Syrian families as their average family size is much larger than a typical Canadian family. 

The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia‘s Welcome Fund program provided valuable financial support to Syrian GARs by helping them obtain and maintain affordable and appropriate housing from June 2016 to December 2017 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis.  During this period of time, Nova Scotia welcomed 1052 Syrian GARs and the Welcome Fund supported 153 Syrian families by providing them with a housing supplement and covering costs of interpretation, transportation services and medical equipment.

Three stories that highlight the positive impact of the Welcome Fund for Syrian refugees:

  • A single parent with a small child did not receive enough money to pay their rent and basic monthly expenses. The Welcome Fund provided the additional money the family needed while waiting for their CTB cheque and while securing better and more affordable child-care arrangements.
  • One family of 11 faced challenges in finding affordable housing when they arrived. In the end, the family was able to find two apartments that could be merged into one. Their monthly shelter allowance did not meet the costs of their total rent.  The Welcome Fund covered a portion of their rent until their Child Tax Benefit arrived and provided support during a period when their CTB allowance was adjusted.
  • A client with a rare eye condition required a special optic lens that was not covered by the person’s health insurance. This lens would slow the rapid vision loss the client was experiencing. The Welcome Fund covered the cost of this lens.

In summary, the Welcome Fund:

  • Made permanent accommodation more affordable for 153 Syrian families
  • Helped reduce the number of families facing financial emergencies during this time period
  • Supported individuals with mobility issues to be able to afford transportation to and from appointments
  • Helped GARs access interpretation services when accessing health related services in the community
  • Enabled individuals to access health equipment and resources that they otherwise could not afford
  • Overall, helped reduce 153 Syrian families’ stress level during their initial settlement period in Canada

We are grateful for the support of the Welcome Fund during the 2016-2017 settlement process of Syrian refugees.”

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Helping communities help themselves

Georgina Geldert with her great-granddaughter LylaGeorgina Geldert has donated to many charities throughout her life. She heavily researches the causes she’s interested in before contributing and has been a big supporter of Doctors Without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and many initiatives involving the arts.

One cause that’s particularly close to her heart is opportunities for children and youth. As one of four children in a single parent family in the early 1940s, Georgina was no stranger to struggle.

“I understand how important it is, especially for children, to have their basic needs met and to be accepted by their peers. Poverty is a huge roadblock for some children, especially in getting an education, and that is still very true today.”

When Georgina learned about the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia, she found a new way to support the many causes she cares about. Before long she became a proud champion of community foundations and decided to designate a donation in her will to CFNS, knowing it will allow her to give back in many ways by helping communities help themselves.

What Georgina likes most about the community foundation model is that it allows funds to stay right in the place where they’re needed most and be controlled by the people who benefit directly from them.

“It’s good for self-esteem for people to be able to help themselves. It gives them a sense of ownership and they take pride in what they’re doing,” she says. “It puts ownership back in the community so they can make a decision that’s best for them.”

If you’re interested in leaving a gift like Georgina, talk to your financial advisor or contact us at 902-490-9916 or to find out how you can. You can also make a donation any time online via our CanadaHelps page.

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Clarence Community Hall

Clarence Community HallIn many small towns and communities in rural Nova Scotia the local hall is much more than just a building; it’s the heart of the community. It’s the hub of social activities and its walls have witnessed wedding receptions, birthday parties, town meetings and numerous other gatherings that bring families and friends together to share happy times and happy memories.

Like any other building, community halls require upkeep and repairs which can be costly. The Clarence Community Hall in Paradise, NS is one of those halls. It’s where local senior groups hold their weekly card parties, an outing that’s more about the tea and conversation than it is about a winning hand. It’s also where the local 4-H Club meets once a month. In a small community like Paradise there isn’t a lot for a young person to do after school and on weekends. The 4-H Club offers its members fun, educational projects and activities that keep them busy all year long.

Shirley Fralic has lived in the area for many years and knows how important the Clarence Community Hall is to local residents. That’s why she made a special effort to receive a cheque from the Bridgetown Area Community Fund (BACF) to help out with the cost of upkeep. What delighted Fralic the most was that with the financial support of the BACF, the young people in the 4-H club would continue to have a place to meet.

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Hope Blooms in the North End of Halifax, where they’re growing dreams and vegetables in greenhouses

Hope Blooms in the North End of Halifax, where they’re growing dreams and vegetables in greenhousesThree years ago an idea blossomed in registered dietician Jessie Jollymore’s mind – an idea that would promote healthy food choices and encourage community pride at the North End Community Health Centre. Her idea was the beginning of the community vegetable and herb garden, which has become a focal point for more than 50 youth and 14 families. The garden has inspired them to take control of their future and make a difference in their community. With increasing demand and expansion on their side, Jessie knew a greenhouse was the next logical step toward long-term sustainment of the garden.

The grant from the Local Food Fund at the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia was used for materials to build the greenhouse which will allow residents to lengthen their community garden’s growing season and save seeds for the next year. The greenhouse will also be used by 30 young people to sustain production of their herb salad dressings under the Hope Blooms label. Proceeds from the dressings go into a scholarship fund for the youth gardeners in this community.

The greenhouse will also provide an opportunity for educational workshops to teach locals about growing organically and starting seeds. Other contributors that helped fund the greenhouse were the Black Business Initiative, the Positive Aging Fund and proceeds from a yard sale held by two youth in the north end. The project was managed by engineers from the Department of Health and built by CFB Halifax as part of the United Way Days of Caring. St. Patrick’s Church donated space and water, while Ted Hutten Family Farm and the Halifax Farmers’ Market provided greenhouse design expertise.

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Getting a much-needed resource back on the road

Getting a much-needed resource back on the roadThe Community Foundation of Nova Scotia helped the people of Yarmouth living with disabilities get back on the road with some much-needed funding to repair their wheelchair accessible bus. With the list of repairs required for the bus to pass its safety inspection, including new tires and an airbag, the timing of the Foundation’s grant to the H.O.P.E. Society couldn’t be better.

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Innovative non-profit provides a home-sweet-home

Innovative non-profit provides a home-sweet-homeNot all young mothers have a safe place to call home. These women and their children often live in extreme isolation and suffer from poor nutrition and health problems – conditions which leave them with a deflated sense of self-worth that puts them and their children at risk of abuse and violence. Supportive Housing for Young Mothers (SHYM) is a non-profit organization which provides parenting and life-skills education and support along with safe independent living for single mothers (age 16 –21) and their children who are otherwise at risk of being homeless. SHYM opened its doors to tenants in October of 2007, bringing the dream of many dedicated individuals and organizations to fruition.

A grant from the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia helped to support young mothers at SHYM enjoy recreational opportunities and new experiences that promote healthy lifestyles and build self-esteem in a non-judgmental and supportive environment.

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Two women who grew up generations apart share a passion for helping others

Innovative non-profit provides a home-sweet-homeEthel (Grant) Eagles grew up in industrial Cape Breton over 70 years ago. As a young girl her dream was to become a nurse. Always a caring, kind and compassionate woman she wanted to work in the local hospital to help others and alleviate their pain and suffering.  Now, over half a century after graduating from nursing and long since retired from the profession, Eagles still feels the need to give to others. In November

Now, over half a century after graduating from nursing and long since retired from the profession, Eagles still feels the need to give to others. In November 2010, she created the Ethel F. (Grant) Eagles Scholarship Fund which was awarded its first scholarship to Ms. Chantel Kelly, also from Cape Breton, and who like Eagles has a passion for the nursing profession. The scholarship has not only  made it possible for Kelly to fulfill her career dreams but it has also instilled in her a desire to one day help other students in financial need like her.

“Being the first recipient of the Ethel F. (Grant) Eagles Scholarship is not only an incredible honour but it has made my dream of becoming a nurse financially possible.”     – Chantel Kelly

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Little Readers bags will make it easier for parents to choose age-appropriate books for their children and encourage reading

Innovative non-profit provides a home-sweet-homeCuddling up to read a book in a comfy chair or falling asleep after a bedtime story are cherished memories for most of us. A grant from the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia will make selecting that perfect book a little easier for busy caregivers through the “Little Reader Bags” program.

The idea originated at the Annapolis Valley Regional Library in Bridgetown. Library staff put together 40 colour-coded reusable bags containing various age-appropriate books that support early learning in children. The libraries and bookmobile from Windsor to Annapolis Royal distribute the bags. Each bag also contains information on how to build literacy skills and tips on reading to children. The libraries partnered with local family resource centres, preschools and schools to promote the “Little Reader Bags” to families.

It is hoped that by making it easy for parents and caregivers to stop at the library, borrow a bag of age-appropriate books, and take them home to share, families will increase their reading activities.

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