Donor Stories

Michael Berlis-Ellen Cheslock Fund

When Michael Berlis and Ellen Cheslock retired to Niagara-on-the-Lake more than 15 years ago, they weren’t about to quietly retreat into their golden years. 

They did everything imaginable to get involved in their new hometown. Berlis, for example, worked at a winery and then helped found one the first breweries on Niagara’s Ale Trail. He joined a local gastronomic and social club. Then he became chair of the Niagara Community Foundation’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund in support of organizations and initiatives dedicated to making life even better for residents. 

In the process, the couple fell in love with their adopted community, proud to show it off to anyone who stopped in for a visit.

To show how much they appreciate life in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the couple established the Michael Berlis-Ellen Cheslock Fund through the Niagara Community Foundation. 

“You get involved with different aspects and then look for ways to give back to the community,” Berlis said. “The Community Foundation is a part of that. The main driving force behind starting this fund is that the money stays in the local community.”

Berlis and Cheslock started their fund with a lump sum and plan to add to it over the years ahead to help it grow and meet the ever-changing needs of Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

Right now, mental health, particularly children’s well-being, has become a priority due to the pressures of living in a pandemic, Berlis noted. He and Cheslock are also aware of the difficulties charities in general have had with fundraising over the past two years to help some of those causes.

“Charities are important, but they may be even more important today than they were before. There are needs that will emerge that will need to be monitored. Niagara-on-the-Lake is not immune to the issues that COVID has created.”