The Comox Valley Community Foundation announced today that the Catherine Mary (Mamie) Aitken estate will donate over $6,000,000.00 to the CVC Foundation. This is, by far, the largest gift ever made to the Foundation.
“This generous gift is a game changer for the Foundation and the Comox Valley,” says CVC Foundation President Dr. Norman Carruthers. “It will have a profound impact on the Valley, and because only the income will be spent, the gift will keep on giving to our community for generations to come.”
As specified in Mamie Aitken’s Will, the income from the Aitken Fund will benefit St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation, students attending North Island College, the Comox Valley Hospice Society and other groups to be chosen by the CVC Foundation as part of its annual granting program.
“This generous bequest will allow the Comox Valley Hospice Society to continue to support hundreds of people every year,” said Terri Odeneal, Executive Director for CV Hospice Society.
Susan Auchterlonie, Executive Director, North Island College Foundation says, “This gift is a life changer. The magnitude of this gift means that every year upwards of 25 students from the Comox Valley will be able to attend North Island College tuition free. The financial barrier for those wishing to pursue their educational dreams will be lifted. Just imagine what this will mean to the recent high school graduate, or to the mom looking to upgrade her education in hopes of retraining for a new career.”
And Lynn Dashkewytch, Executive Director of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation says that contributions from the Aitken Fund, “… will provide the opportunity to address the needs of both care and comfort for the frail and elderly living at The Views at St. Joseph’s. This very generous and thoughtful donation will help us upgrade the physical space in the rooms, the respite room and the common areas. The renovations would include new paint, window coverings and furniture. The goal will be to create an environment that feels more like a home setting. These upgrades will help enhance the comfort and quality of life for the residents of The Views at St. Joseph’s.”
Mamie’s parents, John and Elizabeth Aitken immigrated to Vancouver Canada in 1910 and took up residence in Courtenay in 1912 when John was sent to open the telegraph office. Daughter Cherry was born in 1920 and Mamie arrived in 1922. The Aitkens had planned to stay in Canada for just a few years and then immigrate to New Zealand but they fell in love with the beauty of the Comox Valley and the friendliness of the people and decided to stay and raise their family here. Mamie and Cherry were active in the community throughout their lives. Both members of the Soroptimist International Club of Courtenay, they were dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls.
True Comox Valley pioneers, the Aitken family is an important part of Valley history. The Comox Valley Community Foundation Aitken Fund ensures that their legacy and generosity will continue in perpetuity.
The Comox Valley Community Foundation was established in 1996 and currently has endowment funds in excess of $5 million. The Foundation has distributed over $1.5 million to the community since inception. This year the Foundation distributed a record $200,000.00 to the community. The gift of the Aitken Fund to the CVC Foundation increases the endowment fund holdings to more than $11 million.
For further information about the Comox Valley Community Foundation, its mission and how individuals and organizations can participate in Enriching Life in the Comox Valley visit the Foundation’s website at www.cvcfoundation.org