The pandemic over the past year has created many unanticipated challenges for the community, especially in the hospitality, events and not-for-profit sectors. Not-for-profit organizations have been severely restricted in their ability to generate funds through their traditional programs, while in many instances, being asked by their various communities to step up their efforts to give a hand up.
One partner in the newly merged Catholic Community Foundation of Waterloo Region, previously the Waterloo Region Catholic Schools Foundation, was not able to organize annual community events in 2020 which have been a tradition in both fundraising and community celebration. The annual Bishop's Banquet, a 15 year tradition, has brought together stakeholder groups - education, parishes, government and business communities from across the Region. The annual Links fore Learning Golf Classic, introduced in 2002, is another Catholic community event which brings together participants from all stakeholder groups.
The organizing committees are still cautiously optimistic that these two annual events will be presented in some form later in 2021. The LfL Golf Classic, normally scheduled in August, may have a different format but will still be an enjoyable outdoor experience. The annual Bishop's Banquet may be required to go virtual in format but can still a be a stimulating and joyous occasion. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.
Both the founding partners of the newly formed Foundation have a tradition of annual grants programs. These funding programs have supported various stakeholder groups, ranging from school initiatives, to individual scholarships and bursaries, to support for community partner organizations. As previously announced, in 2021 the new Foundation will honour all previous commitments made to community partners and to school student scholarship, bursary and award sponsored annually. However, the annual grant programs traditionally offered by both organizations will be deferred until at least October 2021.
In place of the traditional grants programs, this Spring, the Foundation will fund a gift card program for families to give them a hand up during these challenging times, especially escalated by COVID 19. These gift cards will be distributed through our leaders in our schools and parishes. The Foundation is also giving one time grants to our not-for-profit partners, who are offering excellent support for the community but unable to fund raise in their traditional methods.
I am proud to share with you that the board of directors and staff of the new Catholic Community Foundation of Waterloo Region are committed to supporting our community in any way possible. If you need help, let us know and we will make every effort to assist. If you have the ability to support our efforts either financially or through volunteering your time, we welcome your engagement.