Partnering with the Pros

Have you ever tackled a renovation in your home? Maybe you're thinking of replacing your back deck this spring, or updating your bathroom. Whatever your project and or your level of expertise, one lesson all homeowners need to learn is knowing when to call in a professional for help. There are some jobs perfect for a DIYer and others, that you rather call in a pro.

As a charity foundation, we have 20+ years of philanthropic experience and yet we still know the value of partnering with a professional when it comes to estate planning, financial advising and legal recommendations. Similarly, we know members of the business community in Niagara have years of experience in the world of planned giving, for example, but sometimes, even those professionals need a hand when it comes to knowing the charities here in Niagara. This is why we call ourselves "allied professionals."

NCF partners with professional advisors of all kinds- lawyers, estate planners, financial advisors, accountants - to help turn client intentions into community impact, through planned giving, estate planning, and setting philanthropic goals. Our donors and fundholders come to us from all walks of life, and we work in partnership with our allied professionals to tailor make solution that meets their individual needs. Here's how we do it:

  • We work as your partner. You stay in control of your client relationships-we're here to help you provide a full range of services to your clients;
  • We are experts on charitable giving. Whether it's setting up an alternative to a private foundation or putting together a complicated estate plan, we can tailor giving plans to meet your client's needs;
  • We are experts about our community, so we can help your clients be as effective as possible in their giving;
  • We help you connect across generations. When you help families establish an advised fund with us, you and they can stay involved for generations;
  • We help your clients donate a variety of assets, including cash, appreciated securities, and real estate. These can be assets they give now or later, as part of their estate plans.
  • As a public charity, we offer maximum tax benefits. Starting a fund at a community foundation is significantly less expensive and easier than starting and operating a private-foundation. 

Whether you are a lawyer, an accountant, of financial planner, we invite you to become one of our "allied professionals" and partner with us to meet your client's needs. Like with any good renovation, a little "DIY/Hire a Pro" combo is never a bad way to go.

Largest Grant in NCF History

The generous $655,000 grant from the NCF’s David S. Howes Fund will supply all of the high-performance training and testing equipment at the new David S. Howes Sport Performance Centre

May 25, 2022 (Niagara, Ont.) — Today, at Canada Games Park, the Niagara 2022 Host Society, along with the Niagara Community Foundation (NCF) and Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO), proudly announced that, in recognition of a generous $655,000 grant from the NCF’s David S. Howes Fund, the 6,000 square foot sport performance centre located inside the Walker Sports and Abilities Centre at Canada Games Park has been officially named the David S. Howes Sport Performance Centre.

This grant, which represents the largest ever awarded by the NCF in its 22-year history, will supply all of the high-performance sport training and testing equipment at the new David S. Howes Sport Performance Centre, and will help this facility to become the first regional training centre of the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO). Set to begin operating after the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games, this centre through its affiliation with the CSIO will provide world-leading sport services and programs, such as training, performance testing, nutrition, mental performance training and more, to Niagara athletes and coaches in order to enhance their ability to achieve national and international sport success.

The David S. Howes Sport Performance Centre will be managed by a new legacy organization called Sport Niagara that will be established following the 2022 Canada Games. Sport Niagara will focus on advancing the development of sport within the Niagara community by working to maintain, build on and optimize the many benefits achieved by hosting the 28th edition of the Canada Games in the Niagara Region.

“We would like to thank the Niagara Community Foundation and the David S. Howes Fund for this extremely generous grant,” said Doug Hamilton, Board Chair of the Niagara 2022 Host Society. “One of the pillars of Niagara’s bid for the Canada Games was to create a lasting legacy for sport in Niagara, and this grant will go a long way to helping us to accomplish that. The David S. Howes Sport Performance Centre will be a game changer for Niagara’s athletes that are pursuing their dreams in sport”.

“Two areas that the late David S. Howes had tremendous passion for are sports and the community — and this initiative covers all of these bases and more. The Niagara Community Foundation is proud to continue to honour David’s legacy by supporting the upcoming Canada Games and the Niagara community through this grant,” said Bryan Rose, Executive Director of the NCF. “This first-class complex will be utilized by Niagara’s athletes for many years. The Foundation is extremely proud to partner with the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games, the various levels of government, the other donors and sponsors and the community at-large as the excitement builds to the kick-off of the 2022 Games and as we welcome Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast to Niagara this summer.”

“Canadian Sport Institute Ontario is excited to have it’s first official regional training centre at the David S. Howes Sport Performance Centre at Canada Games Park. This facility is an incredible legacy of the 2022 Canada Summer Games and to have a dedicated legacy for high performance sport within that will be a game-changer for the region,” added Ian Gordon, Chair of CSIO. “We will provide local high performance athletes and coaches from over 40 national and provincial sport organizations with access to a state-of-the-art daily training environment and best-in-class sport science and sport medicine service delivery and pathway support. This facility will allow CSIO to better support current and future Olympians and Paralympians in the region and our goal of elevating people and performances.”

As a key contributor to Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic podium performances, the CSIO is a recognized leader in the delivery of applied sport science and sport medicine to Canadian high-performance athletes and coaches. With offices at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough and the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, the CSIO supplies sport science, sport medicine, and sport performance professionals to their partnered National and Provincial Sport Organizations, working with coaches and athletes to ensure best-in-class care and support are provided in training, recovery and competition.

Held every two years, alternating between winter and summer, the Canada Games are the country’s marquee event for amateur sport representing the highest level of national competition for thousands of up-and-coming Canadian athletes. The 28th edition of the Canada Games will mark just the third occasion in the event’s history that it will have taken place in the province of Ontario and the first time in 21 years. In total, more than 5,000 participants and close to 4,500 volunteers are expected to take part in the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games scheduled for August 6-21, 2022.

Tickets for this summer’s Games are currently available for purchase online.

About the Niagara Community Foundation (NCF) & David S. Howes Fund

Created in 2000, the Niagara Community Foundation has assets over $76.5 million and has granted in excess of $21 million to charities working in the arts, heritage, environment, social services, health, education and community development sectors. The NCF is proud to have over 400 fund holders under its umbrella. In 2021, the NCF granted over $2.7M to the charitable sector here in Niagara. In 2017, the David S. Howes Fund was created following an $19 million dollar donation from the David S. Howes Foundation. Per David’s wishes, grants from the Fund support post-secondary, facilities, research, health care services, education and humanitarian issues throughout Niagara.

About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario

Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing best-in-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes, coaches, and National and Provincial Sport Organizations to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. Our team of expert staff deliver sport science, sport medicine, life services, and coaching and technical leadership support to help Canada win medals and strengthen the sport system in Ontario and Canada. CSIO is part of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada. CSIO is further supported by funding partners such as the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and Sport Canada. For further information about the CSIO, please visit www.csiontario.ca.

About the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games

At the peak of Niagara’s boldest summer yet, more than 5,000 up-and-coming athletes, their coaches and support staff will gather to compete for the podium in Canada’s largest multi-sport event. From August 6 to 21, 2022, Niagara will surge stronger than ever on the national stage. The 2022 Canada Games, made possible thanks to funding and support from the Government of Canadathe Government of Ontariothe Niagara Region, and the Canada Games Council, will give rise to new legacies of ambition, confidence, and compassion that will inspire generations to come.

For further information, visit us at niagara2022games.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@2022canadagames).

Media Contact:

Christopher Séguin, Manager, Media & Communications


Welland Public Library

A public library is a treasure trove of helpful information, and the Welland Public Library is no exception. It’s also now a place you can learn how to create a garden and grow your own food – including “borrowing” the seeds to get you started.

A $500 mini-grant from the Niagara Community Foundation allowed the Welland library to invest in creating its seed library – a place where residents can borrow seeds to plant in their own yards or community gardens. The idea is that gardeners save seeds from the plants they grow and return them at the end of the growing season to be loaned again next year. Gardeners learn a new skill, participate in healthy, outdoor activities, and produce healthy, home-grown food.

The 2020 shutdown forced by the pandemic meant the library was unable to offer its intended programs to teach the basics of planting, tending and seed-saving. It also meant that fewer would-be gardeners were reached, and only curbside pick-up of seed – late in the growing season – was feasible.

But Conor Echlin, Welland Public Library’s manager of customer experience, said some gardeners did return to replenish seed and the seed library is still well-stocked, with the 2021 growing season offering another chance. The library has partnered with the Welland Horticultural Society, and the educational component will go online, giving the library the opportunity to share green-thumb knowledge virtually. Cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, spinach, and more are just waiting to burst forth goodness in Welland’s gardens.

If You Can Help Somebody, Do it

Angelo Nitsopoulos has a philosophy: If you have an extra dollar, give it to someone who needs it.
“Give it to charity; give to someone on the street, help somebody,” Nitsopoulos said.

The owner of Heart of Niagara Hospitality put those words to action in 2019 when he started the Nitsopoulos Families’ Fund with the Niagara Community Foundation.  For years, Nitsopoulos has given his time to the Foundation; as a founder of the former Mayor’s Au Marché fundraiser and as a longtime volunteer with the organization; he’s also donated to numerous other causes and charities in the community.

But it was time for Nitsopoulos and his family to give financially to the Foundation after being inspired by David Howes, the late St. Catharines businessman and philanthropist whose own fund was transformative to both the Foundation and Niagara.

The Nitsopoulos Families’ Fund was created in honor of the five brothers with the intention of contributing annually to the growth of the philanthropic investment in their community. Their only stipulation: “Use the money where it’s most needed in Niagara.”

“As time goes on if we put more money in, it will grow,” Nitsopoulos said. “I look at it as a start that will lead to something that will get bigger and better, and that’s to come.”

Ultimately, the fund is the families’ way of giving back to a community that Nitsopoulos said has given them so much throughout their lives and careers.

“Most of my business is done for our community, not just people coming from out of town,” the hotelier explained. “We work hard and we’re fortunate, so we want to give back. This is my town, my children were born here, my grandchildren were born here, so it’s my home. I’m passionate about my city.
If you can help somebody who needs it, do it.”

Having a Chance to Continue Long After the Musicians are Gone

The music of Momentum Choir has a chance to continue long after the current musicians are gone, with the establishment of the choir’s new endowment fund with the Niagara Community Foundation.

The choir, which recruits, trains, and performs with adults living with a disability, was established in 2007, under the leadership of its founding director, music therapist Mendelt Hoekstra. The choir wows audiences with the elation and enthusiasm of its performances, and it gives members a feeling of pride and satisfaction to use their musical talent to entertain and inspire audiences. It’s not unusual for audience members to be moved to tears of joy when they see what the musicians are able to accomplish.

Parents who saw the value of Momentum Choir in their adult children’s lives wanted to be able to make meaningful contributions with lasting impact, Hoekstra said. They encouraged Momentum’s board of directors to establish an endowment fund. Choosing the Niagara Community Foundation as the home for that fund was an easy decision for the board to make, Hoekstra commented, especially with the way Executive Director Bryan Rose met multiple times with the board and even came to a Momentum rehearsal to see the musicians at work. Hoekstra stated the goal is to grow the Momentum Choir Fund with additional gifts – large and small – so that the annual revenue from the fund helps sustain the choir’s mission of teaching, encouraging, and loving people through music.

The fund’s donors, present and future, “want to see this organization continue for many years,” Hoekstra said. With an endowment fund in place, they can help make that happen. “They are not only thinking of their own child, they are thinking of all the others who will be benefitting.” 

Niagara Community Foundation’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Niagara Community Foundation (NCF) is providing nearly $300,000 in funding to support our most vulnerable citizens amid the rapidly changing situation created by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The Foundation will be issuing an emergency Strategic Initiatives Grant of $25,000 in response to the United Way Niagara’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. As well, the David S. Howes Fund – the Foundation’s largest fund – will be issuing $250,000 to the Niagara Health Foundation to help purchase essential equipment. This will be topped up by an additional $20,000 from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Healthcare Community Fund and the Niagara Falls Healthcare Flow-Through Fund, for a total of $270,000.

“COVID-19 is having an impact on charities in every sector that we serve. The work they do is more vital now than ever before and the Foundation recognizes how important it is for us to support these agencies,” said NCF Executive Director Bryan Rose. “We’ll continue to work with our charity partners on the front lines to learn how best we can support them, now and in the long term.”

The grant to the Niagara Health Foundation, whose mission is to raise and steward funds to support high-quality patient care, education and research at Niagara Health is much needed to support local hospitals in their fight against the pandemic.

“We are grateful to the Niagara Community Foundation for their leadership to support urgently needed equipment for our front-line health care workers. The donation will directly impact patients being cared for with COVID-19 in our community. Thank you for providing funds to support Niagara Health at this critical time in our community,” said Roger Ali, President & CEO of the Niagara Health Foundation.

The grant to the United Way’s Fund provides immediate support to charitable service providers across Niagara who are providing essential resources related to basic needs.

NCF has reached out to other local funders. Thus far, the Branscombe Family Foundation has joined the Niagara Community Foundation with their own pledge of $25,000 to the United Way. Rose stated, “We have and will continue to collaborate with charities and other funders to support the emerging needs of our community.”

The grant to the NHF will allow Niagara Health to purchase essential equipment, such as new ventilators, as well as a number of new beds. The impact of this funding will be felt across Niagara in providing our frontline healthcare workers with the equipment they need to ensure our community remains safe and cared for.

Created in 2000, the Niagara Community Foundation has raised over $62 million and has granted in excess of $15 million to charities working in the arts, heritage, environment, social services, health, education and community development sectors.

Media Coverage:

St. Catharines Standard


My Story – Rainer Hummel

Rainer Hummel is relaxed in his office amid the rustic setting of the historic Hummel Properties building in St. Davids.

While he views himself as a very low key guy, it is safe to say that he leaves an impact on all who he is involved with whether in business or community.   He literally lights up when referencing his children, grandchildren and family. He reflects with pride on his German Mennonite heritage and his community involvement that led him to create the Hummel Family Endowment Fund in 2017. This was created through the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund under the structure of the Niagara Community Foundation.

Rainer was born in Uruguay but has lived in Niagara-on-the-Lake since he was 3 years old. While this establishes him as a long time Town resident he has often been viewed as a “newcomer”.

His German Mennonite roots are deeply imbedded within him. He feels he learned much through the harsh reality of his ancestor’s struggles in Russia and Germany which eventually led them to become refugees headed to South America in hope of a good life.  His face and tone becomes serious as he reflects on their many challenges and tough lives. He knows that those who survived did so through working very hard, never giving up and the ultimate goal of a successful future for their family and future generations.  The German Mennonites were and are still known for their co-operative efforts among their community.

On his Mother’s side his family roots originated in Gedansk, East Prussia. Following WWII East Prussia was partitioned between the Soviet Union and Poland according to the Potsdam Conference. East Northern Prussia was divided between the Soviet Republics of Russia and Lithuania with Southern East Prussia placed under Polish administration. The families work revolved around farming. They ended up in Germany fleeing from the Russians.

His Father’s side was Russian (German speaking) from south Caucasus, Helenendorf. Famine and instability had followed in the wake of the Napoleonic War. Meanwhile, Russia hoped to spread the legendary German work ethic amongst the peasants in its newly conquered colonies. Settlers in Helenendorf, (now Xanlar), planted crops and vineyards. In 1826, before development had got far, the town was burnt down by the Persians. Nonetheless, the resilient population rebuilt what rapidly grew to be the nucleus of Azerbaijan's 'Concordia' wine business.  His great grandfather owned a winery/distillery in Concordia Russia but lost it when the Russians/Bolsheviks took it.  He along with other family members were executed in WWII.

Eventually the continuous turmoil left his Grandmother as a refugee fleeing both the Russians and Germans. In 1951 the Americans and British were left to resettle the refugees by shipping them to countries who would have offered to take them.  The German Mennonites stayed grouped together and were sent to Uruguay.  Here they were given plots of land from a 1500 hectare parcel.  They worked together as a co-operative which was old school Mennonite.  They had a stable but poor life where his family did not see a future for them.  Rainer had an uncle who lived in Canada who was established in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The uncle sponsored Rainer’s family to come and join them at their small home on Townline Road.  His parents and older brother left South America to live with the uncle on Nov. 14th, 1963 when Rainer was 3 years of age.  In their small shared home there were now 4 adults and 4 children.  His family then rented an apartment on Lorraine Street, Virgil and eventually purchased their first home on a 7 acre farm on Line 1.

Rainer attended Virgil Public School and Niagara District Secondary School but often found himself away from school helping out on the farm and by 14 working construction. He gained his strong work ethic working alongside his Mother on the farm. He couldn’t keep up with her and always felt that she was the hardest worker he ever knew.  In these early years, Rainer remembers being very shy and early signs of independence appeared as he couldn’t stand being told what to do.

He worked for Wiens Electric between the ages of 14-20. Over the years through this work, he had become a foreman and had done some work with BELL. Thinking he was not going to get anywhere, he quit and enrolled as a mature student at Brock University in Economics in 1981. He loved it but did not have the money to continue studying as he was living on nothing.  That year the government introduced a Student Venture Capital Programme where you could get an interest free loan of $3000.00 payable in 3 months. He went to an assigned interview with Mr. Gosen of Gosen Insurance to apply for the loan. He received the money and proceeded to buy a trenching machine and a truck and borrowed a trailer.  He worked long days on construction managing to get work through his BELL connection and paid back the original loan in the allotted time. He developed a strong work ethic but he couldn’t balance work and school.  He left Brock but had completed a year of Business Administration taking Economics, Marketing and Geography.

By the age of 25, he had approximately 15-18 employees but felt he needed a “real” job. He thought that he should maybe work for someone other than himself and pursued employment at General Motors. After seeing/experiencing the application process and structure of a large corporation, he realized it was not for him. Working for someone else was not a fit for him. He continued to work on his construction company with feelings of struggling and constant wondering about success. He kept reinvesting his earnings, building on each success. He was uncertain that success would always be there and feels that this underlying theme came from growing up poor. It took him a long time to realize that he did have the foundation of a successful business but was fixated on reinvesting. He would question his success-- not accepting or realizing that he already had it.

Rainer sees success as a personal perception that usually differs as others see it or interpret it. To him success was not a single component of luck. He believes that luck begins when many tiny things come together.  These tiny things set the stage for things to go right and will resurface when you don’t always expect them to come together or even expect them to contribute to success. They could bring you reprieve or break you. These many little things create the environment for luck to happen with no specific time frame defined.

Hummel Properties was created in 1984 which involves developing land projects in and around the region.  A major land development came with the purchase of Jones Beach in St. Catharines where he created the residential Newport Quay. His first project in NOTL was the addition of apartments in the Greaves Jam building on Queen Street in 1989. Throughout the years, Rainer worked on various commercial and residential developments in NOTL and St. Catharines. He was responsible for building the first apartment complex in Virgil and adapting the old Solander Case/winery/newspaper office building for reuse as a two storey restaurant (currently The Old Winery Restaurant).

He is humble about his contributions to the community which includes restoring heritage properties for new use.

He was based in St. Davids in 1986/87 across from Niagara Trailers in the former Empire Store Fixtures building. He then purchased the St. Davids Co-op Building in May 2008 where both Telcon and Hummel Properties were based.  His current office is across the street in the original Lowrey Cannery building—which was built in 1905 by the Lowrey Family.  The factory was home to Canadian Canners, then Delmonte/Kraft and eventually being purchased and closed by CanGro Foods in 2008.

Originally Rainer’s relationship with the Town was tumultuous feeling like an outsider although he had lived in NOTL since the age of 3.

In giving back to the community, Rainer first became inspired and involved with the Virgil Businessmen’s Association (VBA). He witnessed first-hand the amazing energy and focus that the VBA business people had for philanthropy. They did way more than anyone really knew.  They did whatever was needed whether it was with their own time and effort or those of their employees and materials they could supply.  He witnessed first-hand with people like Harry Penner, that nothing was too much to ask for. His relationship with the Town shifted from confrontational to a balanced mutual respect.

He loves the history of the Town which he believes is the intrinsic thing that makes NOTL so unique. He loved learning in the early days about history and architecture from local architect Don Chapman, whom he admires and credits with success in many areas of his career development.  As he learned more about the Town, he became more inspired and more active.  In 2008 at the Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Niagara Awards, he won the Christopher Newton Award in recognition for his extraordinary vision in business and in 2019 was named Citizen of the Year.

He got involved with the Chamber of Commerce and after serving on various committees, he served a four year term as Chamber President.

He did give back to the community through his own awareness but always felt that others gave more.

Hummel Properties is pleased to be an active sponsor of NOTL events. He is a major sponsor with Niagara College’s Annual Seafood Gala supporting bursaries and scholarships;  youth sports for small kids and teens (soccer, hockey); and the Steve Ludzik Foundation in support of Parkinson’s Disease. His admiration for the creativity of the Shaw Theater has encouraged him to join the Board of Governors and become a financial contributor to the family and children’s program. Hummel Properties has also made contributions to treatment rooms at the Bethesda Home for troubled children.

The driver behind Rainer starting the Hummel Family Fund is his children and grandchildren. “We have to do more as a family. We need to show that our family, children and grandchildren, have contributed to our community. The kids are able to take care of themselves so they need to know how important it is to help others.”

Rainer has an older daughter Raiana who is an established and successful business woman and mother of his three grandchildren. He has two younger children Lexa and Axel. He wants his children/grandchildren to understand the responsibility of giving back to community as he felt at 30 he was late in doing this.  Initially, he had a focused view on building himself while he wants his children to have a broader view of giving back to the community earlier in life.

Through the Hummel Family Fund his intentions are to assist young people entering the skilled trades (plumbers, electricians etc.).  At one time these skilled trades were considered a career but now seem perceived as less than that of the higher educational pursuits and academic degrees. He wants to encourage and help young people to open doors to get into the skilled trades through scholarships to Niagara College and wherever else applicable.

He selected the Niagara Community Foundation to manage and direct his donation due to their ability to invest his initial capital and use the interest to be directed to his specific area of interest for future generations.

While Rainer has accomplished much over the years he is looking forward to continuing to assist with different initiatives. This includes the Splash Pads. The first one was built at the Virgil Splash Pad and he is looking forward to future ones as the need and interest arises.

Rainer would like to be remembered through the eyes of his family and his children/grandchildren that he was a Dad who didn’t quit, lived life in a positive way, worked hard and contributed to his community. He would like them to not be passive but to show up and to do positive things.

His very strong German Mennonite heritage rooted in his ancestor’s strength and resilience has inspired Rainer to stay focussed and work hard on his ability to succeed. He is always thinking of “the next project” and building on his past projects. More importantly he wants to set a great example for his family on the different ways to give back to your community.

Story as told to Debi Pratt in 2019