Communications & Beyond: Life at the Oakville Community Foundation

By Julia Main

My story with The Foundation began in February— I met Sarah McPherson, Director of Communications and Development at a non-profit meet and greet organized by a professor. I was still a public relations/corporate communications postgraduate student at Sheridan College, but I was eager to get a head start on my internship. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was ready to dive in.

Five weeks of interning flew by, and I was thrilled that The Foundation wanted to keep me on the team throughout summer. Since then, I have worked on crafting press releases, email newsletters, communications plans for various initiatives, and storytelling about the people and charities we work with. I’ve had the chance to put my writing, design, and strategic skills to the test.

When I first started working with The Foundation, I had the basic idea of what community foundations do: they hold funds for families, individuals, businesses and non-profits to be used for charitable purposes. From being on the inside, I’ve learned just how much care and dedication goes into these efforts and the immense positive impact on the local community. From speaking with charities who receive funding from The Foundation, it’s clear that we are helping make a difference in the lives of Oakvillians from all walks of life.

The Foundation connects people with causes through granting, but also plays a role in identifying the needs of the community through research. Recently, in partnership with the Town of Oakville and YMCA of Oakville, we conducted our Sense of Belonging survey with the goal of understanding how people experience belonging in the community. I took a lead role in disseminating the survey, from sharing on social media, to crafting email newsletters, to reaching out to our partners in the community. It was a great experience and I am so glad I could see this project through from start to finish.

Similarly, we are also in the midst of a 2-year research project in partnership with Sheridan College, called Community Ideas Factory. Sessions in creative problem solving have been held on the topics of food insecurity and housing so far, with sessions on employment and wraparound services coming in the future. The goal of the Community Ideas Factory is to identify fundable solutions that can be implemented in our community. I had a chance to attend a creative problem solving session on food insecurity, and it was truly inspiring to see the community of service providers come together and put forward each of their creative and unique ideas. I’ve had the opportunity to share some of the research findings so far, and I look forward to seeing more great ideas come out of this project in the future.

It’s been a great journey so far. Everyone I’ve met through The Foundation has been kind, supportive, and willing to help, and I’ve had the opportunity to gain experience in so many aspects of the communications world. Overall, I could not have chosen a better place to complete my internship and start my career in communications.