Wright takes on fundraising role for Community Foundation

Grove Theatre and other organizations helped by foundation's reach

By Geoff Coleman

Glen Wright. Photo: Geoff Coleman.

Sitting on the patio at his waterfront home near Fenelon Falls, Glen Wright can look across the lake to the site of the family cottage where he spent his youth. Built in the mid-1950s, his mother sold the cottage when he was 20, and despite leaving the area to pursue what turned out to be a very successful career, Four Mile Lake was never far from his memory, so he returned and built on the west shore.

Wright established himself professionally in many ways, first with an actuarial and employee benefits company in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. His experience with pensions, wellness, and disability benefits caught the eye of then-premier Mike Harris, who tapped him to become chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in 1995.

Later he was brought in as Chair of Hydro One to stabilize the management team there. Then he would run the North American logistics company, Leancor, specializing in helping companies like Polaris Industries and GE Appliances schedule “just in time” pickups, deliveries, and ordering.  

Today, though, Wright is more interested in his volunteer role with the Grove Theatre in Fenelon Falls. “I was invited to attend an early organizing meeting and I liked the pitch, so I got involved. My family likes to do things when they come to visit, and the theatre is a substantial asset and facility for the community.”

His financial background made him a natural choice to take on the role of fundraising chair. He points out that the Grove Theatre has an avenue for donations within the Community Foundation of Kawartha Lakes.

In a nutshell, Community Foundations guide volunteer efforts and financial support to where it will have the greatest impact locally. With nearly 200 community foundations across Canada, they’re basically local groups headed by people who know where help is needed in their communities. They are well-connected links between donors looking to realize their philanthropic goals, and community interests who could use the help.

The Kawartha Lakes Community Foundation was established as part of the Canada 150 initiative and oversees several funds including a COVID relief fund in Bobcaygeon, and the Fenelon Falls Fund which provides bursaries for Fenelon Falls Secondary School graduates, in addition to the Grove Theatre Fund.

Wright sees the Community Foundation as a direct and effective means of making a charitable donation. In addition to accepting one-time donations, the foundation can assist donors establish legacy funds which can support charities over many years, and provide advice to community groups wishing to start a fund.

He notes that a philanthropic gift has greater impact in Kawartha Lakes than it would in the Greater Toronto Area where more individuals can make significant charitable donations. Putting his money where his mouth is, Wright has started a lake-based fundraising challenge, where he will match donations to the Coboconk Wellness Centre by his fellow Four Mile Lake cottagers.

Wright adds that while there have been substantial donations made to the fund, it is the numerous donations of $100 or $200 that have really moved the Grove Theatre fund along. “Community spirit built the theatre, but it feels good to sit there and know your contribution helped.” 

Photo caption: Glen Wright, a hobbyist woodworker also has sweat equity in the theatre, after milling logs and using the lumber to build eight rustic benches placed in the mezzanine and on the trail leading to the theatre.

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