Stampede City Kinsmen Receive 2017 Generosity of Spirit Award – Philanthropic Group
Story posted October 2, 2017 – Erika Stark – Postmedia Content Works
The members of the Kinsmen Club of the Stampede City are the kind of folks you’d want to have as your neighbours.
At least, that’s how Mary Ellen Neilson describes them. As the executive director of the Association for the Rehabilitation for the Brain Injured in Calgary (ARBI), Neilson has seen first-hand how committed the club members are to their community.
“They’re such a good group,” Neilson says. “I’ve never seen such collegiality. They just have a great time and they do so much good in the community.”
For nearly 30 years, the Kinsmen club of the Stampede City has supported ARBI by providing funding to a variety of essential programs for those in Calgary living with from brain injuries.
“What I love about the Kinsmen is they don’t miss the little (charities), the ones that just need a hand up,” Neilson says. “They also get out and help — they’ve done so many building repairs for us, and they have been doing our Stampede breakfast for 25 years.”
The club, which has quietly been contributing to communities and organizations in Calgary since 1964, was honoured this year with the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Generosity of Spirit Award in the “philanthropic group” category. The club was nominated by ARBI.
“It feels great,” says club president Tom Maclean of the honour. “We don’t often get that much public recognition. As a service club, we tend to work under the radar, so it was very exhilarating to be recognized.”
In 1972, a woman named Audrey Morrice began helping her friend Alice Laine’s son recover from a serious brain injury. By 1978, those two women had founded ARBI and were working out of a church basement to help others dealing with brain injuries. Now, they have helped to rehabilitate thousands of Albertans.
Maclean says he was honoured to hear that ARBI wanted to nominate his club for the Generosity of Spirit Awards.
“They’re in some ways a bit like us,” he says. “It started as a small group of ordinary people that saw a need, and we’re kind of a group of ordinary guys that like to help fulfil needs in any way we can.”
The Kinsmen have funded the music program at ARBI, as well as an aphasia group for those dealing with language impairments.
“They just really believed in the healing power of music,” Neilson says. “They’re just so open to finding different ways to help us.”
The Kinsmen club of the Stampede City is likely best known for its long-standing support of children’s health through the Kinsmen Lotto for the Alberta Children’s Hospital. The club has also raised funds for the Brenda Strafford Foundation for seniors’ care and donated to the Simon House Recovery Centre in Bowness, which helps men struggling with addictions.
This year, the club made a special $100,000 donation to the Calgary Emergency Management Agency to replenish supplies for Canada Task Force 2, a team of volunteer first responders that assists during disasters such as the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016. The $100,000 donation was then matched four times by the federal government.
“That was a really awesome group to support,” he says. “We get to hear about many smaller charities as well as large charities and the work that they do, and then we have the opportunity of supporting them and partnering with them.”
But the concept of being in the limelight isn’t one that Maclean and the club are used to.
“Now we’re in the limelight, but we realize that our work is that important to other people,” he says modestly. “We’re doing the right thing, we do it quietly and, every once in a while, we can put the spotlight on ourselves.”
Spoken like a true neighbour.
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.