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Our Stories

Good hearts fill a void

You could say the Niagara Community Foundation filled a void for
Wendy Cheropita.
In turn, Cheropita filled one for her community when she took on the
role of chair for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund in 2016.
Cheropita had recently moved back to Niagara after living in
Toronto and was keen to get involved in something meaningful in
her new hometown. Soon after her return, Niagara-on-the-Lake Lord
Mayor Pat Darte drew her attention to something noticeably absent
from the community: a dedicated municipal fund established through
the foundation.
Virtually every other city in the region had one to support charities
within those communities.
“Niagara-on-the-Lake is an affluent community and people are very
passionate about living here,” Cheropita said. “So I got his message
quite clearly. I said ‘I’d really like to do that.’ ”
Fundraising was new to Cheropita but soon she had a team of
“good hearts” and community engagement pros at her side: Darte,
Nancy Brazeau, Joan King, Leisa Lepp, Debi Pratt, Mario Ferrara,
Shawn Spiewak, Brianne Hawley, Ken Bridgman, and founding
Niagara Community Foundation director, Ann-Louise Branscombe.
Together, they launched the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund in November
2016 to the benefit of local causes. Four donors stepped up with
significant contributions totalling $450,000, giving the endeavour
incredible momentum. At the fund’s launch event, someone else
offered $100,000, making the fund one of the fastest growing in
foundation history.
Voids are certainly being filled now.
“I’ve never felt happier in a room full of strangers,” Cheropita said
about the launch. “Everyone was there to see how they could get
involved to help people they’d never met. This is just the starting gate
that we’re at. We’re over the moon.”

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