Bettering the community and Earth, one tree at a time.
Story by Wendy Rose Gould
A little more than 15 years ago, an idea sprouted at the Kiwanis Club of Capilano, West Vancouver, British Columbia, one that would turn out to be monumental in the following years. Kiwanian John Howell saw British Columbia residents rally around the idea of planting evergreens in naturally forested areas of the province and posed this question to his fellow members: Why not plant trees as part of a fundraising project in West Vancouver too?
With enthusiastic support from club members and the community at large, The Tribute Tree Program quickly took root. The program allows any individual or group to donate a planted tree, accompanied by a commemorative plaque, for a tax-exempt CA$1,500 donation.
The trees are donated for a variety of reasons, from celebrating a 50th anniversary or 100th birthday, to acknowledging a significant community contribution or honoring a deceased loved one.
“The Kiwanis Club of Capilano has an exclusive agreement with the District of West Vancouver’s Parks Department, which provides Kiwanis with dedicated locations throughout the municipality,” explains Neil Carlson, the club’s past president and head of the tree program. “Donors may choose from decorative trees such as cherry blossom, magnolia, red bark maple and more, depending on the location available.”
Historically, the DWV Parks Department has been responsible for providing and planting the trees, providing bronze dedication plaques and caring for the trees. Recently, though, the Tribute Tree Program initiated a sub-program through which local at-risk youth care for the trees and plaques as part of a work-experience program. This joint initiative with Community Youth Services has been the most significant advancement of the project, says Carlson, and is one club members look forward to nurturing in the coming years.
“The Tribute Tree program is our club’s single most important fundraiser,” says Carlson. “To date, over 190 Tribute Trees have beautified our community. Proceeds from this fundraiser are split 50/50 with the district (which bears all of the costs), resulting in donations raised of nearly $150,000.”
Club members are exceptionally proud of not just the funds they’ve been able to raise over the years, but that their program benefits the environment, along with every member of the community.
This story originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Kiwanis magazine.