VIDEO and story: Heart of Our City – The backbone of the community foundation

Linda Lutz, a retired chiropractor, co-founded the Prince Rupert Regional Community Foundation

A visit to the chiropractor as a kid changed her life in more than one way.

When Linda Lutz was three years old she was kicked in the head by a horse. After she recovered from the head injury she was riddled with other ailments, allergies and eczema.

“I was a sickly kid,” she said. In Grade 8, her parents took her to the chiropractor and the treatment helped improve her health. “I decided I want to do this. I never want to be anything else.”

She attended the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, where she met her husband Richard. Four years after graduation, the couple were married and in 1970 they moved to Prince Rupert — the drive to the North Coast was their honeymoon, Linda said with a laugh.

Her love for the community settled into her bones and 47 years later she gets misty eyed when she speaks about paying the community back.

“Rupert is a great place to raise your family and live, it has always treated me well, it has given me a good life,” she said. “Yeah, they can always complain about the rain but at least this year we weren’t choking with smoke. We’ve got the best asset in the world with the air.”

There are many ways to give back to a community you love, but for Linda, she chose to throw her energy into the Prince Rupert Regional Community Foundation.

In 1999, she co-chaired the Northern BC Winter Games in Prince Rupert with Barb Gruber. The city asked them to take the money left over at the end of the games and find a way to make it grow. Two years later, the organization became the 120th community foundation in Canada. The charity started with $34,000 and has grown its base to $535,000.

The foundation has allowed them to create endowment funds, a restricted fund where only the interest can be spent.

In the past 16 years, they have handed approximately $167,500 in grants within the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District.

Funds have been raised through a sport-a-thon in 2007 and celebrity dinner events with special guests including, Gloria Macarenko, Rick Hansen and Lloyd Robertson. People who want to keep their money in the region may also bequeath a portion of their will to the foundation.

Supporting the foundation as the founding chair member is Linda’s way to ensure the community remains stable, even if there’s a downturn. There will always be money to provide grants to people or societies who need it. But there are always the what ifs.

The Linda’s moved to Prince Rupert at the economic peak in the seventies with a booming fishing industry.

“You know when we had all those fish plants and we had millions of dollars coming in here, if we had it at that time, had a foundation, or had those fish plants give one per cent of whatever they made, we’d have all kinds of money to do parks for the community, chair lifts for the pool, there’s so many things that you can do — but right now we’re just surviving and paying our taxes,” she said.

This year, the foundation has already given $18,100 in grants to the Prince Rupert Library, the senior centre, and the North Pacific Cannery’s Intertidal Music Festival. Through the foundation, Macro Properties donated another $25,000 to the Lions Club to contribute toward Mariner’s Park upgrades.

Richard has also worked with the foundation. “I was quite involved with Rotary, and the chamber. We always have fundraising projects but when the money was raised there was nothing there for next year. The foundation is a good vehicle to build a fund that gives you interest every year, growth every year, so it’s a sustaining thing,” he said.

Linda and Richard Lutz still have their chiropractor clinic on Ninth Street, but she is two years into her retirement, and they offer limited hours of service. Even though she’s on leave from the foundation’s volunteer board, she still tries to share the message that there are grants available for the community to benefit from.

“I’m working toward the foundation having a million dollars in its endowment fund so when we get 10 or 15 per cent interest we can make substantial donations within this community to make it a better place,” Lutz said.

The couple have one daughter, two sons and six grandchildren who all live in Prince Rupert. Other than escaping the winters to their part-time home in Arizona, there is no place they’d rather be.

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