Alyssa Curto – Geritol Follies Bursary Fund

Alyssa Curto PHOTOI enrolled at Westmount Secondary School in grade 11 and immediately joined an improv team called

“The Sketch Comedy Team”, where I was able to contribute both as a performer and as a writer. In addition, I performed in the school musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. There were also many opportunities throughout my three years there in talent shows, school assemblies, and other extra-curricular gatherings (i.e., fundraising “Coffee Houses/Java Nights”). The nurturing and supportive environment of Westmount lent itself well to the large number of artistic students the school housed. I felt as though my talents were appreciated and respected there in a way that I had not previously experienced, and it was wonderful to have so many friends in the same place that had the same passions as me.

From this positive feedback, I was able to explore other outlets for my creativity. I wrote, produced, cast, directed and filmed my first short film. It was a parody of sorts mocking “adolescent” life and all of its “ups and downs”. These experiences led me to pursue a career in the arts, and so I decided to audition for musicals in the community and began researching possible programs in the arts for my post-secondary education. I began formal vocal training, dance training, and piano lessons to become a more well-rounded performer.

It was during my years of training that I decided to focus on my classical voice. I competed in numerous music festivals, receiving several first place standings and scholarships. I auditioned for post-secondary programs in voice at the University of Toronto and The University of Western Ontario. I was fortunate enough to have been accepted to both programs, but decided to accept the offer given to me by the University of Toronto. My voice professor is Jean Macphail, a reputed world-class voice instructor and performer. She has nurtured my voice and I feel that I have grown exponentially under her tutelage.

I was also blessed to have been selected as a student of the opera undergraduate program at the university. This opportunity allows me to collaborate and work with the students in the Master’s program and with the faculty of the Opera Division. As an opera undergrad, I am also involved in all of their main stage performances and am given extra acting instruction.

I am now entering my fourth year in the program and am looking forward to being a part of this year’s main stage productions as well as preparing for my graduating recital. My plans for the future include participating in summer intensive training programs and preparing for auditions for post-graduate studies. It is my dream to become a world-renowned opera performer and to grace the stages of The Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Italy and Covent Garden in England!

The bursaries that I have received have helped me to fund my post-secondary education. There are many extra costs involved in an arts program, particularly in classical voice training. I would not have been able to pursue my passion for performance without the assistance that the HCF scholarship/bursaries offered. They have relieved some financial burdens and worries for my family and me. This has allowed me to focus more on my training and studies.

If given the chance, I would give the donors who made the funds possible the biggest and most heartfelt thank you. I would tell them that their generosity has allowed me to stay in school and earn my degree, without which I likely would not have the same opportunities to advance in a career in the arts. And, I would tell them that with their help, this small-town Hamilton girl might become someone famous one day!

These awards helped reinforce my belief in the importance of helping those who are in need. Once I become financially successful, it is my intention to give back to others in the form of scholarships/bursaries, master classes, etc. and I have people like the members of the HCF committee to thank for impressing upon me how valuable financial aid can be and the difference it can make to the lives of those receiving it. They have given me a new respect for the saying “generosity begins at home”. I am a Hamilton hometown girl and my community helped me when I needed it most.

Dr. John Misale – Chaney-Ensign Bursary Fund

Dr. John Misale PHOTOI attended Bishop Ryan High School in Hamilton between 1980-85 then on to McMaster University from 1985-89, where I graduated with a B.Sc. degree in biology. I then pursued a professional career as a Doctor of Chiropractic and graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in 1993. While in the chiropractic college, another recipient from Hamilton made me aware of the bursary.

I have celebrated my 20th year in practice as a Doctor of Chiropractic.

I currently have two chiropractic practices in Hamilton and have helped new chiropractors in their future plans. I am also a member of the Chaney-Ensign review committee.

Coming from a working-class family in Hamilton, post-secondary education and professional schooling are in many cases restrictive because of the financial burden put on the students and their families. The bursary was an avenue of funding that allowed hard-working students to continue with their studies.

This may seem odd but, aside from the obvious financial help during the time that I received the bursary, it seemed as though the entire Hamilton Community Foundation was pulling for me. When I was back in Hamilton during my schooling, I would often stop in to the office to say hello. The staff all knew me and I felt that part of my success was in not disappointing the Foundation. Today I am a volunteer with HCF and I try to create that same feeling of community with my practice and career.

From the first time I was made aware of the Chaney-Ensign Fund, I was taken aback at the selflessness and generosity of these two women. The fund has not only created a legacy for them, but also for all those who have benefitted from their kindness and generosity. They have promoted education and allowed many to succeed and be a positive influence in not only Hamilton but all over the world.

I have been able to see the value of this bursary from both sides of the fence. As a recipient, it helped to push me forward to enable me to be where I am today. I also have seen the success of many other recipients firsthand over the last 19 years as a committee member for this fund. When a community can care for one another, those who move on bring that with them and it will spread to others. One small act can have far-reaching impact like ripples in a pond and that, I believe, was the hope of the Chaney-Ensign sisters.

Allan Gaumond – Geritol Follies Bursary Fund

Allan Gaumond PHOTOI went to Westmount Secondary School in Hamilton, and following graduation I went to Mohawk College and completed a three-year Applied Music Diploma. After Mohawk, I attended the University of Toronto earning a Bachelor degree in Jazz Performance, followed by OISE where I completed my Bachelor of Education.

My grandfather was a member of the Geritol Follies at the time and he informed me that there may be a bursary opportunity through Hamilton Community Foundation. At a time when I wasn’t eligible for many financial assistance options, the bursary was critical in my ability to attend the University of Toronto.

I currently teach music to middle school and high school students at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton. I also direct the Rising Stars Jazz Band, which is a member of the Hamilton All Star Jazz Bands.

I would thank the Geritol Follies Committee for giving me the opportunity to attend such a prestigious and exclusive program as the one offered at the University of Toronto. Being a part of that program opened up many professional doors to me, both educational and performance based. Without assistance from HCF, it may not have been possible for me to attend that program.

Terry Cooke

Terry Cooke joined HCF as President & CEO in 2010.  In this 60th anniversary video, he reflects on HCF’s unique role in Hamilton, and the importance of “leaving the place stronger than we found it.”


Judith McCulloch

Judith McCulloch was HCF’s first full-time leader.  In this 60th anniversary video she reflects on the growth of the Foundation and its impact.


John & Sandra Black

John and Sandra Black’s philanthropy is directed to meeting Hamilton’s greatest needs. They particularly like HCF’s research-based approached to understanding  community needs and the best way to meet them, as they discussed in this 2014 video.


Dr. Leila Ryan

Dr. Leila Ryan was Chair of the Foundation when the Foundation decided to direct the majority of its unrestricted granting to poverty reduction – the first community foundation in Canada to do so.  Leila reflects on the importance of that decision in this 2014 video.


Murray Hogarth

Murray Hogarth is the founder of Pioneer Energy LP, sponsors of HCF’s 60th anniversary.  In this 2014 video he discusses why he chose Hamilton Community Foundation as an efficient vehicle for his company’s and his family’s philanthropy.



Carolyn Milne

As President & CEO from 1995 to 2009 Carolyn Milne was the driving force behind the Foundation’s strategic approach to addressing Hamilton’s complex needs.  In this 60th anniversary video, she reflects on HCF’s ability to bring people together to improve the lives of their fellow Hamiltonians.   




Michael & Louise Creaghan

Michael & Louise Creaghan

Michael & Louise Creaghan

Michael and Louise Creaghan share the belief that commitment to family then community is crucial. Both have volunteered extensively throughout their lives and know first-hand that working with others on grassroots projects gives people a sense of caring for their neighbours. Whether it’s through daycare, school organizations, sports, church and volunteer associations, people need to find ways to contribute. They point to the Cathy Wever Elementary School in north Hamilton as a good example of the difference community involvement can make for a neighbourhood. The steps may be small and it may take time to see results, but the approach works.

The couple both spent long careers in education in Hamilton – Michael as a teacher and guidance counsellor; Louise as an English and physical education teacher and then, after raising their own children, as an ESL teacher giving young new Canadians 180 min­utes each day of, as she calls it, “fundamental survival English.” After working in many Hamilton schools, they retired together from Sir John A. Macdonald Sec­ondary School in the downtown.

It’s natural that their philan­thropic passion is helping nur­ture community vitality. The Creaghans approached Hamilton Community Foundation with a general sense of what they wanted to do through their fund: provide support to organizations that are building and improv­ing the community. To achieve this, Michael and Louise rely on the Foundation’s research and knowledge to propose specific projects that target community priorities.

“The Foundation staff identify urgent needs and present them to us, knowing the kinds of change we want to support,” says Louise. Examples of their contributions include support for the Native Women’s Shelter renovations and the Neighbourhood Leadership Institute that HCF has launched to encourage and train local grass­roots leaders. As Michael points out, their investment has often been the catalyst for others to provide support as well.

The Creaghans rely on the skill and sensitivity of the Founda­tion’s staff, their in-depth knowl­edge and understanding of com­munity needs and opportunities. They also commend Hamilton Community Foundation’s ability to provide co-operation and lead­ership to other organizations in a non-partisan way.

Excerpt from 2013-14 Annual Report