Margaret Davies — The Story Behind the Foundation.
Margaret Davies worked as a Social Worker for the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society from 1983 to 1998. During that time, she noticed that because they often struggled with very difficult circumstances the young people with whom she was involved at work rarely seemed to believe in themselves and few reached their full potential. At that time, the norm for the entire agency was for an average of only one young person to transition from KHCAS care in order to attend college or university every two years.
Margaret believed that children in care needed more opportunities, earlier on in their lives in order to be successful. She thought one of the first steps in the healing process could be a week at a summer camp, where kids can “just be kids”. She came to believe that summer camp can offer disadvantaged children much more than a vacation. Camp is also an opportunity to connect with each other as friends, to meet and build relationships with caring adults and counselors, and to discover the inner child they may have long forgotten or never had the opportunity to be.
Building on and adding to her original vision of sending kids to camp, Mrs. Davies founded the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Foundation in order to give to more children a fuller childhood experience. The Foundation’s purpose was broadened to offer a range of other life-enriching, positive opportunities like music lessons, participation in sports, dance or art lessons. In her work with the CAS, Margaret also identified a need to provide funding for the cost of school outings, trips and special occasions from which under-privileged children might otherwise be excluded. Added too, was a program to provide Christmas gifts from people in the community to kids who might otherwise receive little or nothing. Still another program was founded to provide scholarship funding for any and all youth leaving CAS care to attend post-secondary education.
By providing funding for services to children in the care of the KHCAS, Margaret’s goal was to build up their self-esteem. Additionally, creating opportunities for developing relationships with people in the community helps children have a sense of their social value with others, and their place in the world. The effectiveness of her supportive giving programs is reflected in the number of young people leaving care to attending higher education and moving on to develop successful careers. In 2016, four college students graduated and nineteen youth received funding assistance for higher education from the Margaret Davies Bursary.
In 1993, Margaret met with a number of her friends in the Kawartha-Haliburton area to discuss the launch of a new major fundraising event for KHCF, to be called the Dream Ball. The response was phenomenal. Everyone in the community wanted to help raise funds in support of children in need. This group of women and men donated hundreds of volunteer hours to make the first Dream Ball fundraiser a success. From sewing props to hanging decorations, obtaining items for the silent auction, to selling tickets – they did it all! In November 1994, the first annual Dream Ball raised $15,000.00 and sent 45 children to summer camp.
Since that time, the same dedicated group of volunteers has performed their magic every year and we are happy to report that the 2016 Dream Ball raised over $85,000.00. Over the course of the last twenty-four years, the Foundation has sent 4,529 children to summer camp and has raised a total of $1,857,062.64 primarily through the funds raised at the annual Dream Ball. We can’ t wait to see where 2017 and beyond will take us!