HERE Magazine

RUNNING IN THE FAMILY

Inspired by her parents, Kelly Scott-Gray is the driving force behind the Silver Bell Soiree
by

ELIZA BARLOW

photography

AARON PEDERSEN

Philanthropy is a family tradition for Kelly Scott-Gray. Her parents, Guy and Dr. Shelley Scott, have long been dedicated supporters of the University Hospital Foundation, and Scott-Gray is just as passionate about giving back.

Now, the 32-year-old is looking for ways to spread her love of giving to the next generation of supporters, for whom even the word “philanthropy” might conjure up images of fundraising galas in evening gowns and tuxedoes. And she’s already meeting with success as co-chair of the Silver Bell Soiree, along with Laura Kinghorn-Smythe, the other co-chair. The inaugural event at last year’s Festival of Trees attracted 375 guests, raised over $60,000 for the University Hospital Foundation and won Outstanding Event in the fundraising event category at the Edmonton Event Awards with a hip and fun cocktail party that any 25- to 45-year-old could enjoy.

The catchment area for the University of Alberta Hospital’s lung-transplant program is huge, covering the better part of four provinces and three territories — a total of approximately six million square kilometres. That’s one-third the size of Russia. Patients from as far away as Winnipeg, Regina, Yellowknife and Prince George are all eligible to be treated at the hospital. And organ donors can come from anywhere in the area as well.

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Q: You spent time in Vancouver working with companies such as lululemon. What brought you back to Edmonton?

I grew up in Edmonton and lived in Arizona for a short time. My husband, Darren, and I had moved out to Vancouver where he was doing his medical residency, so we could have a bit of an adventure. We decided we wanted to have kids, and decided to move home to be closer to family. We moved home two weeks before my daughter, now two, was born, and have another baby due any day! (She gave birth to a boy after the interview.) Edmonton has that small-town feel, it’s a little friendlier here. As a community, Edmonton really pulls together and has a philanthropic spirit.

Q: Your parents are well-known philanthropists Guy and Dr. Shelley Scott. What did they pass on to you, growing up, about philanthropy?
They taught us that it’s important to be involved in the community where you can and give back when you’ve been lucky.
Q: What is it about the University Hospital Foundation that inspires you?
My mom worked at the University of Alberta Hospital as an anaesthesiologist for the majority of her career… so we always had a connection to the University Hospital.
Q: How does philanthropy fit into the health-care picture here in Edmonton?
We have such a great health-care setup here, but that doesn’t all come from government, and can’t all come from government. There’s endless need, but there’s not endless financial support. If you have a community that supports health care, you’ve got a leg up.
Q: The phrase “giving back” is used so often – what does it mean to you personally?
It means expending what time or energy you can into providing a benefit to other people in your community. I’ve been fortunate to have a very supportive and caring family, and a lot of people don’t have that, even some of my friends don’t have that. I don’t have endless resources from a financial aspect to give back, but what I can give back is in time and energy and thought.
Q: Where did the idea for the Silver Bell Soiree come from? What’s your vision for this event?
I love Christmas, and I love the (University of Hospital Foundation’s) Festival of Trees. There was an opportunity to create a new event, and I kind of got carried away! At first there was an idea to create a date night, but it evolved into the idea of a cocktail party – a less formal version of the big fundraising event, which is the galas. There was a gap — the Festival would bring in a lot of people with kids and a lot of school groups. The idea for the Silver Bell Soiree was to attract people who are 25 to 45 to introduce them to the Festival of Trees and the University Hospital Foundation.
Q: What is it about the Silver Bell Soiree that makes philanthropy more accessible to that younger crowd?
The crowd at gala is more established members of the community, and the price point is a little higher. At the Silver Bell Soiree, you’re not required to wear formal attire and it’s not a sit- down dinner. You can wear something you probably already have in your closet. It’s a free-flow event, more like a holiday party. It’s meant to alleviate the pressure, and it’s supposed to be easy. You can look at the silent-auction items, have some drinks, have some food, and there’s a live auction and a super-short program. It’s meant for the guests to get into the spirit of the event and experience the Festival of Trees in a different way.
Q: Are Gen Xers and millennials interested in philanthropy?
I definitely think so, but I think philanthropy feels like a really big word. I think people in the younger demographic think of how they can be involved in causes that they care about, and I think they care about giving back to the community. Having an event like the Silver Bell Soiree is an easy way to show people that literally giving even $20 makes a difference. It’s not about being able to give $1,000 or $500, it’s about being able to give within your means. It’s about giving what you can, where you can. And it might not even be about giving financially – you might have an idea about how to make the event even better.
The second annual Silver Bell Soiree is set for Friday, Nov. 29. Visit festivaloftrees.ca/silverbellsoiree

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