United Way leader honoured at National Philanthropy Day gala

Rebecca Grant receives outstanding fundraiser award at Fairmont Empress Hotel during philanthropic celebration

Rebecca Grant can still remember her first employer’s advice on how to connect with her community: get involved with the chamber of commerce and donate to the United Way.

That was 40 years ago and Grant, now an associate professor of information technologies at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business, maintains both connections today.

Anyone involved at the campaign level with United Way of Greater Victoria likely knows at least a little of Grant’s legacy with the organization. Since 2002 she has served in various capacities, acting as Capital Region campaign chair in 2008 and as a campaign cabinet member since.

Talking about her motivation to volunteer for United Way and other local charitable and business organizations, she said anyone can be self-focused if they choose.

“But we’re all part of a community and as an individual, your quality of life is only as good as the community around you,” she said.

Grant was among honourees at the Fairmont Empress Hotel recently at a National Philanthropy Day celebration, earning the outstanding fundraiser award.

She recalled with a chuckle being invited to lunch in 2002 to talk about how UVic might expand its United Way campaign.

“One of the things I quickly realized is there really is no such thing as a free lunch. The next thing I knew I was the workplace leadership chair for UVic.”

Among the other winners on the night, local businessman and former Second World War POW Rudi Hoenson was honoured with the Generosity of Spirit award for his significant personal donations of money, time and leadership over the years to various causes, mostly health care-related.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows received the Outstanding Philanthropic Service Club Award for supporting those in need, with a focus on children, seniors and a multitude of health-based charities. The Mustard Seed food bank and B.C. Cancer Agency are two frequent beneficiaries of Odd Fellows’ efforts.

The Reynolds secondary Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock fundraising team collected the Youth in Philanthropy award for their ongoing work to collect money for pediatric cancer initiatives. For 2013, the Reynolds campaign recently surpassed the $100,000 mark, bringing the nine-year total for the school to more than $470,000.

Taking this year’s Corporate Citizenship Award was Coastal Community Credit Union.