Who’s backing it?

Shannon St John.

Shannon St John.

THE TRUE INSTIGATOR of the Phuket Community Foundation was Shannon St John, who at the time was Director of Networks at New York-based Synergos,  an organisation dedicated to addressing “global poverty and social injustice through a process of collaboration”. A firm believer in the power of community foundations to bring “the most influential people and institutions in government, business and civil society, as well as poor and marginalized communities who are usually left out of the process”, she arrived in Phuket not long after the 2004 Asian Tsunami with the aim of starting CFs in Thailand.

Shannon has huge experience with CFs, having for many years run the Triangle Community Foundation, which manages some 700 funds and disrusing grants totaling nearly $13 million (B455 million) a year in three counties in North Carolina.

She brought together the initial board of the PCF, and has been back frequently to dazzle (and sometimes perplex) board members with her vast knowledge. She also introduced us to the wonderful Jarusri “Mee” Jiravisitkul, who is based in Bangkok but a frequent visitor to the PCF, always dispensing quiet, sensible wisdom.

Rien Van Gendt

Rien Van Gendt

Shannon also found us our initial funding, from the delightful Rien Van Gendt of the Van Leer Group Foundation of the Netherlands. Later, she also got us substantial funding from the WINGS/Global Fund for Community Foundations and from the Rockefeller Foundation. We have also received valuable advice form Jenny Hodgson of WINGS/GFCF. These organisations gave us grants that enabled us to get off the ground and also to start work on community mapping.

Locally we have received solid local financial support, too, from founder donors the Phuket Gazette newspaper, Andy & Julie Street and Paul Moorehouse.

We have also received financial assistance for one of our toy libraries fromthe Phuket Direct Fund of Zurich, Switzerland.  Other people have elected to give in kind. These include Paul Hurlow of toy maker Drumwell in Hong Kong, who donated eight large cartons of toys for our first toy library; the Phuket International Hospital, which provided free health tests, story-telling and puppet shows at the openings of our toy libraries; Millennium Graphics, which printed posters and flyers at cost or free, and which allows us to use its conference room (and drink its coffee) when we hold meetings; Dr Ong who donated thousands of books for the toy libraries; the aircraft carrier USS Boxer, some of whose crew helped us out with painting schoolrooms when they could have been lounging on the beach, and students of the Phuket Vocational College, who volunteered their time to change motorcycle rear light bulbs.

The list goes on and will certainly grow. We will be putting up a special page listing all those who have helped.

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