Giving back to the community that has been home to their family business for three generations comes naturally for Don and Wendy Smith.
Two-time recipients of the Burlington Mayor’s Community Service Award, the Smiths make a point of giving back both personally and corporately through their family-owned business, Smith’s Funeral Homes, which has been serving the area for 80 years. The Joseph Brant Museum expansion project was a perfect fit for their philanthropic goals, fulfilling their desire to create an historical legacy for future generations that will reflect the values of the community as well as the families whose hard work has made Burlington one of Canada’s best places to live.
“Wendy and I talked about what we could do to recognize the Smith family,” says Don, adding that the couple agreed to become part of the Community Builders Initiative as one of the Burlington’s founding families.
“Our donation to a sector of the museum to help make the project successful will not be about Wendy and myself. It will be in recognition of my great uncle and aunt, my father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother and the Williamson family from whom we purchased the business that had served families here as far back as 1877.”
Don adds legacy is so important to the values of a community. “How many times did our teachers and others tell us, if you want to know where you’re going you have to know where you’ve come from. Through the museum, we can look at the past and recognize the sacrifices that helped make this community special. Then we can think about what we can do as individuals to help continue that legacy, today and into the future.”
Don and Wendy got excited about supporting the museum expansion after hearing about the vision for its future from Burlington Museums Foundation Chair John Doyle as well as Barbara Teatero, Museums’ Director. “It was their vision for making the museum not only an attraction for the people of Burlington but for people around the world that moved us to get involved.”
Don says the expansion will give the museum a proper facility that can showcase Burlington’s past, including the stories of families that helped build the community, while “attracting exhibits of national and international renown that will draw audiences from the rest of Canada and beyond”.
“This project will be good for our community, good for Ontario and good for Canada,” says Don Smith.
He and Wendy are urging their friends, neighbours and fellow business owners to support the project as the fundraising campaign strives to raise the final $800,000 of the $2.5 million commitment made by Burlington Museums Foundation toward the $11.4-million expansion.