Creating Community Connections: Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation


Building healthy communities is all about sharing – whether it’s sharing skills, goals, knowledge, good times or history. One group that truly understands this is the Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation.

The Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation is a not-for profit registered charity that is working to restore the Port Union National Historic District and educate people on the history of Port Union, Sir William Coaker and the labourers who strived to make change so many years ago.

(l-r) Barry Pearce, Community Sector Council; Tammy Greening, health promotion wellness consultant with Eastern Health; Donna Peters, project coordinator with the Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation; Edith Samson, executive coordinator with Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation; Eliza Swyers, Community Sector Council; Bill Abbott, member of Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees.

(l-r) Barry Pearce, Community Sector Council; Tammy Greening, health promotion wellness consultant with Eastern Health; Donna Peters, project coordinator with the Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation; Edith Samson, executive coordinator with Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation; Eliza Swyers, Community Sector Council; Bill Abbott, member of Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees.

This past fall, the foundation in their ongoing efforts to preserve this cultural heritage, launched an intergenerational program which is providing opportunities for youth and seniors in the community to connect and build relationships. The project is being completed in partnership with the Port Union, Catalina, Little Catalina Women’s Institute and the Alliance for Community Engagement, an initiative of the Community Sector Council.  To support the initiative, Eastern Health awarded the Sir William Ford Coaker Heritage Foundation with $10,000 from its 2014 Community Development Fund.

As a health promotion wellness consultant, I will work with this group, as well as other recipients of the Community Development Grants, to ensure that they meet their goals and have the support they need. In October 2014, I had my initial meeting with the group in Port Union to learn more about the project. Bill Abbott, a member of Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees, also joined me on this visit to officially present the heritage foundation with their grant.

At the meeting, Edith Samson, executive coordinator, and Donna Peters, project coordinator, with the foundation, were excited to talk about the initiative and what it will accomplish in the community.

“The foundation sees the project as a way for seniors and youth to develop connections which do not take place on a regular basis. This project will also be a way to preserve our past and pass on knowledge of traditional activities before they are lost forever,” said Edith.

“Through activities such as storytelling, oral history can be passed on to younger generations but at the same time youth can teach skills, like the use of technology, to the seniors,” she added.

The funding will be used to create workshops and opportunities for youth and seniors to come together to exchange skills and knowledge through storytelling, crafts, and digital media technology.

So what will deem the project a success?

Donna explained that “they are hoping this project will lead to more respect and understanding between seniors and youth, and, as a result, strengthen their community support networks.”

As a resident of the nearby Bonavista, Board Member Bill Abbot is familiar with the important work of the foundation and is excited to see this new initiative will come to fruition.

“It is uplifting to see first-hand how this funding will help build cross-generational relationships that will create healthier communities. We are proud to support such an important project through the Community Development Fund, that will allow the foundation to further uphold the traditions and history of the community,” said Mr. Abbott.

About the Community Development Fund

IMG_CDF-Logo_02_02_2015Each year Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees awards Community Development Grants to groups that aim to build a sense of community, strengthen social support networks, develop community connections, address a priority need, strengthens supportive environments, and strengthen community action.

The Community Development Fund, valued at $50,000, was established in 2007 by Eastern Health’s Board of Trustees. Since the first grants were awarded in 2008, over $340,000 has been invested in 45 community groups and organizations. ■

This story was written by Tammy Greening, a health promotion wellness consultant with Eastern Health.

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