Donor Stories

A Garden Party with Big Impact

Good intentions, without action, remain just that- good intentions. But when you put your intentions into action, you get impact! And that’s exactly what two Niagara women did, taking a small garden party idea and growing it into a $57,000+ endowment fund with NCF, impacting women and girls across Niagara for 20 years!

In 2001, one year after Niagara Community Foundation (NCF) was founded, Karen Stearne was inspired by the idea of creating an endowment fund that could have an impact on the community in perpetuity; forever! But, there was only one problem- she didn’t have $25,000 to start a Field of Interest fund by herself. She could make a $250 donation and build it overtime, but Karen had bigger ideas.

Karen approached her friend, and then NCF Board Member, Ann Louise Branscombe, and together they created a vision. What could happen if they brought together twelve of their friends for a garden party and asked each of them to bring twelve of their friends? For $50 the friends would enjoy good food, wine, some live music and great company. How much money could that group raise and what impact could that make on the community they call home, directing funds to support the advancement of women and girls in Niagara?

After some planning, support from Niagara Parks and concerted effort from the core group of 12, the first “Sunday in the Parks” event was held, bringing together 160 people… but they didn’t stop there. Three years in a row, a garden party was held and over $30,000 was raised! Now this was enough to invest into a new fund, aptly named, “Sunday in the Parks, field of interest fund.”

In 2021, the fund celebrated its 20th anniversary and has now grown to over $57,000 and has supported over 15 different charities in Niagara. Since the Fund was created, grants have been awarded for workshops for women returning to the workforce, computer training for older women, and outreach programs for girls. And the Fund continues to grow! This is a true testament to what can happen when you turn your intention into impact.

NCF is in the business of endowment building. You don’t have to have sizable wealth to make an impact. Whether you are committed to building a fund over time, want to come together with others to pool resources, or contribute to an existing fund, NCF helps connect donors with causes and charities to resources. We help YOU turn your intention into impact.

Congratulations to Karen, Ann Louise and all the donors who helped create the Sunday in the Parks fund twenty years ago. Together, you have made a noticeable impact on Niagara.

To help celebrate the anniversary, consider donating to the Sunday in the Parks Fund here.