Foley Mountain Friends continue support despite pandemic challenges
We get by with a little help from our friends, and Foley Mountain Conservation Area is no exception.
Friends of Foley Mountain, a charitable group that has aided the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority's Westport site since 1996, has continued its support despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although their budget is "way, way down" according to president Rob Struthers, the group still covered Forest School tuition for two students in need in Fall 2020, and supported the creation of 100 Outdoor Adventure take-home activity kits to connect kids to nature when Forest School had to be cancelled this winter.
"We're so grateful that the Friends have continued to support us through a very challenging and unpredictable time," said Foley Mountain site supervisor Rebecca Whitman. "We've always been able to count on them when we need help making a program or project happen, and that's continued to be true during the pandemic."
It hasn't been easy. The Friends have had to cancel their annual tapas dinner at local Scheuermann Winery two years in a row, missing out on a combined $12,000 in fundraising.
"The only way that we've been able to keep going is through our membership dues and private donations," said Struthers.
They've added a donation button on their Facebook page and signed up with CanadaHelps, a platform that streamlines the donation process for small non-profit organizations. They've also installed a cash donation box at Spy Rock, Foley's most popular destination.
Struthers said the best way to support the group is to buy a membership, which ranges in price from $25 to $200. Any membership of $50 or more includes a free annual pass to all of the RVCA's 11 public sites for up to two vehicles.
One silver lining of the group's budget shortfall was that some of the programs it regularly supports – including Forest School, day camps and school visits – were reduced or put on hold in 2020. Bus subsidies for schools were also unnecessary, since school visits have been cancelled since March 2020.
But there is always more work to be done to support programs and visitors to Foley Mountain, and Struthers said the Friends will be ready when they're needed.
"We're proud to continue supporting Foley Mountain in any way they require, and we'll be there to meet our long-standing commitments once things open up," Struthers said. "Foley Mountain is a beautiful place. It offers a chance to get back into nature, which we all need right now. We want to see it thrive."
Foley Mountain is open to local visitors during the provincial stay-at-home order. Please wear a mask in busy areas and be prepared to turn back if the park is busy. Avoid line-ups at parking machines by using code 5204 on the PayByPhone app before you leave home.
For more information about Foley Mountain visit www.rvca.ca/conservation-areas/fee-required/foley-mountain-ca.
For more information about the Friends of Foley Mountain or to buy a membership, visit www.friendsoffoley.ca.