The Winkler Community Foundation has been active in the community since 1994, after its inception in 1988. Founding members were then-mayor John Krahn, former mayor Henry F. Wiebe, Frank A. Wiebe, and Harold Fast. While board members have come and gone, over the years, some have come and stayed. One of those long-time members is Gary Gilmour.
Why this long-term involvement with the Foundation?
“Service clubs across North America are dwindling in number and in membership,” he said. “Volunteerism in the traditional service clubs – Kinsmen, Lions, for instance – is declining. At the same time, community foundations are a different vehicle (for volunteerism) but with enormous potential for making a difference in their communities. We are much more than just a grant-making organization.”
While the first focus of the Winkler Community Foundation is still to grow the endowment fund and to grant the interest from that fund to local not-for-profit organizations, the other focus is volunteerism, says Gilmour.
In his over a decade of service with the Foundation, “we haven’t grown the endowment fund as much as I would have liked, but we have enlarged the focus considerably.”
While they have granted thousands of dollars over the years, they have also been busy helping in the community.
The Winkler Community Foundation helped the Katie Cares Foundation with their initial set-up; they helped the Thanks for Giving Run with their paperwork for the first few years until the Winkler Food Cupboard took it over this past year; they created Youth in Philanthropy groups at Garden Valley Collegiate, as well as at several of the city’s junior high school; and they took responsibility for the Winkler Citizen of the Year event when those who had initiated it could no longer run it.
This element of volunteer involvement in the community is what inspires Northland Parkway Collegiate teacher Angela Klassen to continue her work with Youth in Philanthropy at the collegiate. Klassen spent nine years heading up the program at Garden Valley Collegiate and moved it along with her books and charts when she began teaching at NPC this fall.
“People are often very self-focussed,” she says. “YIP helps the students to enlarge their focus to see other people’s needs and to do something about them.”
Klassen says one of the goals she works towards with her students is to instill in them the desire to help without expecting anything in return, to make volunteerism not just a line on their resumes when they leave high school, but a habit for life. With people like Klassen and Gilmour leading the way, that goal may just be attainable!