Grant Gilmour, co-owner of the firm Gilmour Knotts Incorporated in Langley, is one of seven chartered accountants who’ve received a Community Service Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia this year. The award recognizes BC CAs who have made outstanding contributions to the community. Grant has been giving back to the community steadily for many years, particularly through his involvement with the Rotary Club of Langley Sunrise.
One of his major contributions through Rotary has been his leadership of the Sunrise Club’s dictionary project. When he first took on the project in 1998, the plan was to donate dictionaries to one class of grade 4 students at one local school. Within the span of approximately four months, Grant successfully drove the expansion of the project to include all grade 4 students in the entire Langley School District.
“I believe literacy is as important as health,” he says. “I came to the thought that a dictionary is like a vaccination—that if we could reach enough kids, we were certain to reach the ones who really needed the dictionaries.”
To put a human face to the project, Grant had the idea to deliver the dictionaries via a one-day car rally involving teams of Rotarians. It was a huge success, and continues on today. Each September, as they hand deliver approximately 1,600 dictionaries to the grade 4 students at 35 local schools, volunteers demonstrate their commitment to both community spirit and literacy. Moreover, the dictionary project has branched out to other Rotary clubs across the country, including 15 in Western Canada alone.
“It’s amazing how a good idea just gets legs of its own and grows,” Grant says.Case in point: “Shred-a-thon.” “The Scouts’ after-Christmas tree-chipping fundraiser gave me the idea to create an event where the public could ‘chip’ (shred) documents after tax season in exchange for donations,” he explains. “It was a solution to a problem clients had been asking me about for years—how to get rid of old documents without risking identity theft.” To date, the Langley Club has hosted six Shred-a-thons. After the inaugural event in 2005, Grant created a how-to manual for other Rotary clubs, and the ripple effect has led to Shred-a-thons across North America.
His contributions as a Rotarian have reached beyond North America as well. In 2010, he played an instrumental role in the delivery of $400,000 in medical supplies to a hospital in Iligan City, in the Philippines. “I acted as a ‘connector’ for a contact of mine named Jun Tallo,” he says. “I must have spoken to the right people, because the project came together in record time and with great results. I am still surprised today at how much one phone call can achieve. The people at both ends of the project have been great, especially Jun.” Their collaboration is ongoing.“This year, we connected him with a fire truck from White Rock,” Grant says. “It now has a new home in the Philippines.”
In addition to his ongoing work with Rotary, the father of four has served on the planning council at his children’s school for two years, and also volunteers as a Cub Scout leader.
“Seeing smiles on kids’ faces is the most rewarding thing,” Grant says. “There’s nothing like having a 10-year-old in a shopping mall yell: ‘Hey mom, there’s the dictionary man!’”
Dictionary Project note: This dictionary project was done with dictionaries obtained through another source, but we are happy to share the success of the Langley Sunrise Rotary Club in providing dictionaries to the children of their city.