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Gay Lea Foundation announces first 2021 grants

Thirteen new grants will support projects in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Central America and Africa

Since its creation in 2014, the Gay Lea Foundation has awarded more than $1.2 Million in charitable grants to registered Canadian charities providing important humanitarian supports to communities in Canada and around the world.

Today, the Foundation is pleased to announce the 13 registered Canadian charities selected to receive grants in the first of its two funding rounds of 2021.

Chosen for their commitment to poverty relief, community development and/or the advancement of education, the grant recipients were selected from a record pool of 87 applying charities this fall by the Foundation’s Board of Directors, comprised of Gay Lea Foods employees, shareholders, delegates and directors.

Altogether totaling more than $211,000, the grants represent the largest single-round donation in the Foundation’s history.

“We know the past year has been extremely challenging for people in Canada and around the world, with the pandemic exacerbating need and putting an increased strain on charities,” says Gay Lea Foundation Chair, Janet Ringelberg. “It is our genuine pleasure to be able to support these important projects on behalf of Gay Lea Foods, its members and its employees, whose donations to our Gay Lea Foundation make these grants possible and embody a genuine spirit of collaboration – not only during the holiday season, but all year round.”

Read on to learn more about the 13 selected Canadian charities and the projects they’ve undertaken to cultivate hope for those who need it most.


Africa Community Technical Service (ACTS) Society 

The Africa Community Technical Service Society – or “ACTS for WATER”, as it is commonly known – provides clean, disease-free water to people who desperately need it, believing that giving a child clean, accessible water is the best way to help them transform their future. Visit

Project: The Kyenyonyi Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) Project Uganda, Africa

The Kyenyonyi WASH project will build a 12 km water infrastructure known as a Gravity Flow System (GFS) to service six remote, rural villages, in South Western Uganda (East Africa) with safe, clean water. While the GFS is being constructed, ACTS will use Community-Led Total Sanitation Approaches (CLTS) to raise WASH standards of practice and work to equip communities to manage their own sanitation and water resources. In all, the project is expected to improve the quality of life for 3,297 people who do not presently have access to clean, safe water or sanitation services.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,000 to support the construction of the GFS and Community-Led Total Sanitation work with the communities.


Bethany Kids 

BethanyKids is a compassionate medical organization working to transform the lives of African children with surgical conditions and disabilities through pediatric surgery, rehabilitation services, assistive technology, mobile clinics, public education, spiritual care and training for health professionals. Visit

Project: Mobile Clinic/Assistive Technology Project – Kenya, Africa

This project aims to improve the lives of children living with disabilities in Kenya by providing those who are otherwise unable to get around with wheelchairs, allowing them attend school, socialize with other children, and relieve their caregivers from the burdensome task of having to carry their children wherever they go, even as teenagers.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $19,350 to purchase and transport quality wheelchairs to Kenya, where they will be distributed to children living with disabilities.


Calgary Drop-In Centre

More than just an emergency shelter, the Calgary Drop-In Centre (“DI”) provides essential care, health services, employment training and housing supports for the most vulnerable Calgarians. DI programs help people regain independence (when possible) and advocate for those who require exceptional medical, mental and day-to-day support to be successful in the community. Visit

Project: Emergency Shelter Meal Program – Calgary, Alberta

During COVID, the DI’s meal program has become more complex, with meals and bagged lunches served across multiple sites. As the pandemic evolves, so do the DI’s operations. Between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, the DI served approximately 800 meals, three times a day, and they continue to provide food security 365 days a year for those who need it.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $6,000 to help alleviate hunger and provide nutritious meals to low- and no-income Calgarians.


GROW Community Food Literacy Centre 

GROW Community Food Literacy Centre assists and empowers those with barriers to accessing and benefiting from good healthy food by offering a fresh produce market with pantry, community kitchen, and programming designed to reduce hunger with dignity, build capacity and foster community. Visit

Project: GROW Low Cost Market – Niagara Falls, Ontario

The GROW Market makes fresh, local food more accessible to those living on low incomes by offering fresh local foods including vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed meats at wholesale prices, along with canned and other non-perishable food.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $6,000 to support the purchase of fresh produce and dairy products for the affordable market.



H2O4ALL was founded in 2008 with a mission to bring clean water and sanitation to developing areas around the world. Working in partnership with local communities, the organization develops innovative tools, and affordable, appropriate technology to help communities implement sustainable solutions for their water crises. Visit

Project: Kahama Village Rainwater Project – Uganda, Africa

Partnering with Reach One Touch One Ministries Uganda, H2O4ALL will construct two rainwater harvesting systems in Kahama Village – a remote community in Uganda with a contaminated, difficult-to-access water supply. The project will provide treated water to the community, helping improve the health and vitality of approximately 4,000-5,000 people in the area.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $8,000 to support material procurement, installation supervision, and inspection for the two rainwater collection systems in Kahama Village.


Home Horizons Georgian Triangle Residential Services 

Home Horizon provides safe, stable and affordable housing, health and life skills education, mentorship and individualized support plans for youth aged 16-24 facing homelessness in the Southern Georgian Bay area of Ontario. Visit

Project: Your S.A.F.E. – Southern Georgian Bay, Ontario

Recognizing that there cannot be one approach to reaching youth (particularly in a pandemic), the Specialized Access For Everyone Program (S.A.F.E.) sees Home Horizon working with community partners – including 211 – to develop specialized outreach strategies, interaction, counselling and individualized support for homeless youth.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $5,000 to support program staffing and outreach.


Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton 

The Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton (LDAHH) provides information, services, and programs to support the needs of individuals impacted by a learning disability (LD) and empower them to reach their full potential.

Project: Youth to Youth Workshop Series – Halton & Hamilton Regions, Ontario

The new Youth to Youth Workshop Series is designed to support teens and youth with LDs by creating a safe and inclusive space for them to meet and share their struggles and strategies for success. Workshops will be organized and led by LDAHH “Youth Ambassadors” – youth aged 15-29 who are willing to share their lived experiences and act as role models/mentors to younger students. LDAHH will provide coaching, mentoring, and staff support, as well as leadership training to the Youth Ambassadors.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $12,540 to support general program costs, including facilitator and Youth Ambassador leadership training.


Project Orbis International Inc. (Orbis Canada) 

For nearly 40 years, Orbis has been a global leader and innovator in the fight to end avoidable blindness. Working with an extensive network of local partners, they mentor, train and inspire local eye care teams to fight blindness in their communities, believing no one should live a life of unnecessary blindness, simply because of where they were born.

Project: Integration of Community Eye Care in Ashanti Region – Ghana, Africa

Building on the tremendous success of Orbis’s current work in four districts of the Ashanti Region in Ghana, West Africa, the current project will work to dramatically increase access to high-quality primary eye care, eye health education and advanced treatment referral services at the community level in the Sekyere South District, an isolated, impoverished rural community in the region.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,077 to train 50 community-based primary health care workers; equip the district hospital with critical ophthalmic equipment, instruments and supplies; source and procure commonly prescribed eye care medications and antibiotics (to be distributed free of charge to community members), and; deliver a comprehensive community awareness campaign about eye disease and proper eye health.



SHEAF/ESPIGA is dedicated to assisting the poor, marginalized and underprivileged in Nicaragua by working with local partners to promote holistic development at the grass roots level through projects focused on health issues, educational programs and agricultural projects.

Project: The Siksayari Cocoa Project – Nicaragua, Central America

Working with local leaders in Siksayari, an isolated, impoverished community in Nicaragua accessible only by river, SHEAF/ESPIGA will help the community establish and manage a sustainable agroforestry system, introducing the non-traditional (but profitable) crop of cocoa and combining it with avocados, bananas and basic grains.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $4,900 to support the construction of a nursery, purchase materials for the nursery (seeds, benches, shade structures, etc.) and hire a consultant to provide technical help and crop management for the residents of Siksayari.


Teach for Canada 

Teach For Canada partners with northern First Nations education leaders, principals, teachers, and others to recruit, select, prepare, and support outstanding teachers who have the motivation, aptitude, and fit to be successful in a northern First Nation. Their overall goal is to help to reduce the statistical education gap between First Nations and non-First Nations communities.

Project: Principal Support Programming

Effective school leadership is crucial for school and student success, with ineffective school leadership being a leading cause of teacher attrition. The current project will provide northern principals with personal, professional and peer supports, including monthly check-in calls, bi-annual coaching, and resource support from an experienced northern teacher and principal mentor.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $20,000 to support school leadership across 20 First Nations in northern Ontario and Manitoba during the 2020-2021 school year.


Tearfund Canada   

Tearfund Canada works with local agencies in 11 countries across Africa and Asia to meet the needs of people living in extreme poverty through integrated development programs, emergency intervention, agricultural training, primary health care programs, food and food security programs.

Project: Kamba Women Going Beyond – Kenya, Africa

In Kenya, women face disproportionate challenges in education, health, political power, workforce participation, gender-based violence, etc. This project aims to empower 1,060 women of the Kamba Tribe, in the Kibwezi region of rural Makueni County, to transcend the limits of extreme poverty and build a better future by: establishing 44 new Village Savings & Loans groups; providing education on basic money management and small business investments; teaching participants about small scale vegetable production, and; helping them establish a small garden to diversify their diets.

Gay Lea Foundation grant:  $25,000 to support education workshops and materials, staff oversight and project administration.


The Heart of Hastings Hospice  

The Heart of Hastings Hospice is a community-based, volunteer organization dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals facing the terminal phase of an illness and supporting family members in their time of grief and bereavement. Hospice staff and volunteers provide individuals and their families with supportive, compassionate care in the community and at The Heart of Hastings Residential Hospice House.

Project: Increasing the Footprint of the Heart of Hastings Hospice House – Centre Hastings, Ontario

Opened in 2012, The Heart of Hastings’ two-bed Residential Hospice House serves Stirling-Rawdon, Tweed, Madoc Township, Marmora & Lake, Tudar and Cashel, and Centre Hastings, which includes seven Townships and approximately 26,000 people. To accommodate the growing needs of an aging population, The Heart of Hastings Hospice will expand its current residential footprint, with plans to include a third Patient Flex-room, accessible patient showers, additional office space and increased room for alternate supports such as nail and footcare, massage therapy, spiritual care, bereavement support etc.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $40,000 to support the building costs associated with the expansion of the hospice.


Windsor Lifeline Outreach  

Windsor Lifeline Outreach (WLO) works in partnership with local organizations to transition “at-risk” community members out of difficult times by helping to meet their immediate needs and providing sustainable programs aimed at addressing and correcting the root causes of their life issues.

Project: Purchase of a drive-in freezer

WLO delivers food and clothing to several distribution agencies in Windsor-Essex County and the St Thomas/London region of Ontario, servicing approximately 2,000 families per month. To accommodate an increase in need, the organization is adding more warehouse space and a loading dock and sought also to add a drive-in freezer and drive-in cooler to extend the life of the food, vegetables, fruit and meats they distribute.

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to purchase a drive-in freezer.

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