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From breadbasket to benefactor: The journey of The Community Foundation of Orillia and Area

From humble beginnings CFOA has grown through the dedication of passionate volunteers

This story is made possible through the support of Housser's Paint and Wallpaper as part of OrilliaMatters' Community Leaders Program

In the first week of 1999, the Community Foundation of Orillia and Area (CFOA) was born. It started at a dinner meeting where local entrepreneur Jim Dykes commented at length about his interest in community foundations; eventually, someone threw $20 into the breadbasket and told him to start one.

While the foundation was “Born in a Basket,” it has matured and grown with the Orillia community and surrounding area. According to its annual report, it has granted over $3 million to more than 150 local charities since its 1999 conception and in 2023, the CFOA made grants of $716,000 to 56 local charities.

Run by a passionate group of volunteers who understand their community's needs, the grants distributed by the CFOA help local charities deliver critical services to the community, including shelter, food, and care for those most in need, something of growing importance as the cost of living continues to rise. The CFOA also distributes grants to charities supporting recreation, the arts, and the environment.

Michael Gordon, Chair of the CFOA, hopes the organization's growth in the past decade will inspire more people to get involved and support the “critical long-term funding of local charities.”

Gordon says people should consider including a bequest to a charity endowment fund in their will, which will support the benefiting charity forever.

“We are always happy to discuss this further with anyone thinking about this,” he says.

To learn more about the CFOA, visit their website here.