Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) and Past OCF Grants Made

Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) 

Oxford Community Foundation (OCF) has awarded $201,870 in grants to four local charities serving vulnerable populations in Oxford County impacted by COVID-19. The grants are part of the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF), funded by the Government of Canada.

The ECSF is a $350 million fund that is being implemented with Community Foundations of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and United Way Centraide Canada, in partnership with local foundations across the country. Its goal is to provide support to charities and non-profit organizations serving vulnerable Canadians.

OCF announced the allocation of four grants, $74,686 to The Refuge, $50,000 to Domestic Abuse Services Oxford (DASO), $40,000 to Wellkin and $37,184 to Indwell.

The Refuge, a day shelter helping the homelessness, those experiencing active addiction, and mental health struggles was granted $74,686 to help fund kitchen renovations and the hire staff.  Before the pandemic, the Refuge provided meals, day shelter, clean laundry, clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags etc. one and half days per week.  Services were expanded to five days per week when other facilities closed because of the pandemic and the Refuge saw a marked increase in drug usage and need for shelter and food.

“Our primary purpose is to reach the hearts of those we serve with love and dignity.  And, this project will benefit the community by reducing the visible face of homelessness on our streets, lessening the burden on police services responding to loitering and disturbance calls, and add to the overall sense of safety in our communities and our downtown businesses,” said Rene McIntyre, Senior Pastor and Founder of TOTCM.

The Domestic Abuse Shelter Oxford (DASO) was awarded $50,000 so it could better support those needing the protection and services of the shelter. Many women, adolescents, and children are at greater risk of domestic abuse due to social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Two accessible bathrooms in existing bedroom will be built, amenities such as small fridges, tablets, comfy chairs and loveseats, lamps and side tables will be provided for residents in their bedrooms as they will not be able to use the communal living and recreation spaces, and renovation of 24/7 residential support office will be made allowing staff to safely meet shelter residents.

“When everyone first started hearing daily news reports about COVID-19, at DASO we were ready. We had pandemic and emergency plans which we immediately implemented. We had ample supplies including PPE. We had a dedicated, capable staff team ready to take on new challenges. We were prepared to continue to offer our essential services 24/7… But the expected length of this pandemic was not on our radar,” said Rhonda Hendel, Executive Director at DASO. “We had not planned for many, many months, maybe years of COVID-19. Our operating plans and financial forecasting did not include a drastic loss of fund-raised revenue.”

Wellkin was awarded $40,000 to help support the alarming need for families and caregivers requiring mental health supports, including families who may never have required services previously but are suffering due to the complex challenges of COVID. The grant will support the launch of an online hub allowing family and caregivers to connect to mental health supports, whether through formal treatment, education or through a peer support model.

“This pandemic has impacted our nation and our communities in unprecedented ways.  Physical distancing measures and government restrictions on the economy, although much needed, are taking an incredible toll on the mental wellness of families in ways no one predicted. At Wellkin, we are already experiencing what people are calling the ‘fourth wave of COVID’ which is an increase in the need and demand for mental health services.” said Wellkin Executive Director, Mamta Chail.  “We are thrilled that our community will have access to such an amazing resource locally.”

Indwell was granted $37,184 to support those living in its affordable housing communities who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to close living quarters, reliance on public transit, and lack of access to technology.

“Cell phones and pre-paid calling cards are a luxury that a number of Indwell tenants cannot afford on their fixed incomes, and connecting with family, friends and community professionals is increasingly important during the pandemic.  As more medical services are conducted exclusively by phone, those without this technology are more likely to fall through the cracks,” said Justin DeWaard, Regional Manager at Indwell.

The grant will provide support for Indwell tenants through enhanced cleaning sanitation to prevent the transmission of COVID19, provide tenants with food security, provides technology to enable tenants to access external support networks, and provide training for staff supporting tenants who are struggling with mental health and addictions.

“OCF is proud to be delivering this funding in Oxford County to make sure no one is left behind during these challenging times,” said Louise Wardrop, Executive Director at Oxford Community Foundation. “We would like to thank the Government of Canada and Community Foundations of Canada for recognizing the urgent need and the critical role that the 191 community foundations in Canada play in reaching both small and large communities across Canada.”

For a full list of grants awarded through Community Foundations of Canada’s network, visit the CFC website.


More than $87,000 granted in 2019


Helping Hands Food Bank – Feeding families
Grants from the Alabastine-Wilkinson Family Fund and Lessif Family Fund helped buy food for the weekend backpack program. The backpacks, which contained recipes and ingredients to make those items, were delivered to five schools in Tillsonburg each Friday to help families in need put food on the table on weekends.

YMCA Woodstock – Swimming for youth with disabilities
A grant from the Ken and Lynda Whiteford Fund allowed YMCA Woodstock to expand its Swim Able program. The program gives youth with disabilities the opportunity to participate in swim lessons without limitations or restrictions.

Wellkin – Providing a safe youth hang out space
A grant from the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge Fund financed The Hub, a wellness safe space for youth at Wellkin. Youth aged 13 to 25 can come to hang out or access information and support, including resources related to mental health, housing, employment, sexual health, LGBTQ+ and more.


GROWgirls Oxford – Empowering girls and building leadership
A grant from the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge Fund will support the next GROWgirls event for Oxford County’s grade nine female students. The event, delayed due to COVID-19, will inspire leadership and community building with the goal of helping young women increase their confidence and self-worth.

Ontario Student Nutrition Program – Learning to grow and harvest their own food
The Maple Leaf Fund established by Harvey & Irma Beaty provided a grant to the Ontario Student Nutrition Program for garden grow towers for four schools in Oxford County. Eager students learned about food literacy and nutrition, and developed life skills through experiential learning by planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables indoors using the towers.

Strong Start – Inspiring young readers
A grant from the William & Mary Mackesy Community Fund supported Strong Starts Letters, Sounds and Words program. Engaging training materials help young students improve literacy skills and boost their interest in school and learning.

United Way Oxford – Equipping students for the school year
A grant from the Lessif Family Fund helped equip students for the first day of school by supporting the United Way Oxfords Supplies4Students program. Families who needed a little extra help were able to shop for back-to-school supplies while working within a budget.

Student Awards

Children’s Aid Society Oxford Fund awarded bursaries to
seven children in care pursuing post secondary education
Tyler Arts Athletic Award
to Carter Franklin
Jordan Hawkins Memorial Bursary
 to Jacob Polidori
Laurie Hawkins Memorial Bursary to Anna Vyse
Cassandra Hawkins Memorial Bursary to Annika Hoekstra
Lessif Family Fund Bursary to Ann Power
Oxford Manufacturers for Skills Development Bursary
to Jacob Hill and Brandon Moreau
Pat & Barry Smith Leadership Bursary
to Brittanie Fraser, Brookelyn Hussey, Shannon McCorkindale,
Katelyn Walters and Matt Wilker
Lorna & George Roberts Bursary to Hannah Simpson
WDDS Rosemary George DSW Bursary to Azlyn-lee Marie Grose


Children’s Aid Society Oxford – Opening doors to resources, skills and community
A grant from the CAS Oxford Agency Endowment Fund helped to fund the organization’s Open Doors program. This program, focusing on prevention and intervention, offers youth and families access to resources, helps them develop skills, and gives them a chance to build community capacity. The grant allowed CAS to provide snacks, craft supplies, field trips and annual Christmas dinners at various Open Doors program locations in the county.

Domestic Abuse Services Oxford – A safe place to lay your head
A grant from the Ross & Fran McElroy Fund enabled Domestic Abuse Services Oxford (DASO) to purchase new metal beds, replacing old wooden ones infested with bed bugs. Women and children seeking the shelter’s safety now have clean and safe places to sleep.

Operation Sharing – Contributing to better days
Thanks to grants from the Operation Sharing Agency Endowment Fund and the Frank & Marion Smith Fund, Operation Sharing provides better days for the less fortunate in our community though its many programs. Programs supported included The Inn, giving people who are homeless a place to sleep out of the cold, and Bullwinkles, offering a restaurant styled eating experience designed to bring community together over a meal.

The Raw Carrot – Meaningful work for people with disabilities
A grant from the Maple Leaf Fund, founded by Harvey & Irma Beaty, made it possible for The Raw Carrot to renovate and expand the kitchen at its new Woodstock location. The Raw Carrot hires and trains individuals on ODSP, providing them with meaningful employment and life skills. Individuals cook and package handcrafted gourmet soup to sell at farmers’ markets.


Ingersoll & District Minor Hockey – Helping children play hockey
A grant from the Tyler Arts Legacy Fund went to Ingersoll & District Minor Hockey to help cover registration fees for families with financial challenges.

Tillsonburg Senior Centre – Much needed new activity equipment
Thanks to the Alabastine-Wilkinson Family Fund, the Tillsonburg Senior Centre was able to purchase new tables and chairs. The centre’s 400 members, as well as the rest of the Tillsonburg community, are making good use of the new equipment for activities like cards, painting, art, cooking classes and so much more.

Foldens Park – Shade, shelter and a better community park
A grant from the Canada Summer Games Fund allowed the West Oxford Community Hall & Park Committee to build a new covered pavilion for Foldens Park. The pavilion offers families and groups using the playground and the ball diamond a place safe from the elements to gather and hold events or just visit while children play.

Woodstock Minor Hockey – Introducing youth to the game of hockey
The Hawkins Memorial Fund provided a grant to fund the Just Try It hockey program through Woodstock Minor Hockey. The program introduces children and their families to the game of hockey through a fun-filled day during March Break. The funding provides the children with ice time, lunch, and equipment that they can keep if they decide to join a hockey league in the fall.


Ingersoll Choral Society – Beautiful Christmas music for the community
A grant from the William & Mary Mackesy Community Fund helped fund the music, musicians, production crew and promotional costs for Ingersoll Choral Society’s community Christmas concert.

Oxford Winds Community Concert Band – New music to enrich lives
The Oxford Winds Community Concert Band purchased new, interesting and engaging sheet music for their 2020 spring concert series with a grant from the William & Mary Mackesy Community Fund. Volunteers of all ages and musical abilities came together to share their talents and appreciation of music with the community.

Navy League of Canada-Woodstock – Giving cadets new musical opportunities
A grant from the B & R George Cultural Fund and the William & Mary Mackesy Community Fund allowed the Navy League to purchase a saxophone and training aids, expanding the repertoire and supplies for the cadet band.

Theatre Woodstock – Giving young actors the chance to be on stage
A grant from the Henning Hansen Memorial Fund made it possible for underfunded youth to participate in Theatre Woodstock’s STAGES Youth Theatre Program. Enthusiastic youth were able to develop skills and enjoy the technical, dramatic, and social development that only an amateur live theatre program can provide!

Woodstock Art Gallery – Recognizing an emerging artist
The B&R George Cultural Fund helped to launch an emerging artist’s career by funding a solo exhibition in the Woodstock Art Gallery Community Gallery. Laura Bydlowska’s “Up from Below” work combining the practices of fine art printmaking, painting, and pyrography (wood burning) were displayed for the enjoyment of the Woodstock community where her passion began.


Oxford County Trail Council – Building for better views
Grants from the Canada Summer Games Fund and the Oxford Environmental Fund are funding the construction of a new observation deck on the Oxford Thames River Trail. The observation deck will enhance the trail for hiking, biking, birding, cross-country skiing, and general outdoor enjoyment. Youth and school groups can also visit the trail and increase their knowledge of native flora and fauna.


Norwich & District Historical Society – Sharing local history
A grant from the Alabastine-Wilkinson Family Fund helped the Norwich & District Historical Society create four promotional banners to be used as educational tools for the community at various Oxford County events, fairs and exhibits at the Museum. The banners are part of a wider history project focusing on the first post-WW2 Dutch immigrants of Norwich.

Oxford Historical Society – Taking historical stories on the road
Grants from the Henning Hansen Memorial Fund and the Joland Family Fund were used by the Oxford Historical Society to spread stories of Oxford County’s history. Engaging stories and information are now more accessible through presentations to nursing homes, community organizations, churches and community gathering places.

Plattsville & District Heritage Society – Remembering “Ghost Towns”
Grants from the Doug & Yvonne Eckel Fund and the Joland Family Fund made it possible for the Plattsville & District Heritage Society to post nine new signs preserving the heritage of long-lost communities or “ghost towns” within our community. Signs will help increase public awareness, promote tourism, and continue conversation about this history for generations to come.

Additional grants were made from the Joland Family Fund to Grand Erie District School Board for preservation of archives and Lynedoch’s Evergreen Cemetery for cemetery maintenance.



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