March 2020 – Your Community Matters

Hello Friends,

As we near the end of March we have so much to reflect on this past month. With COVID-19 at the forefront of everyone’s mind and as we adjust to social distancing for the time being, we want to take the opportunity to come together as a team to say Thank You!  Thank you to our donors for your continued support as we work with organizations to determine where our assistance is most required. Thank you to each of our followers for continuing to spread kindness. One small gesture like a smile, a Snapchat video to friends or FaceTime connection with family can make such a positive impact in one another’s day.

We know COVID-19 has meant great changes in the way we all conduct business, keep up with our social obligations and connect with friends and family. At this time our office is still closed to the public as we do our part to stop the spread. We are fully accessible via email, phone and are taking online meetings.

We are taking every precaution as recommended by the World Health Organization in conjunction with the Government’s of Canada and Alberta requirements to slow the spread. We encourage you all to continue to look to reliable resources for your information such as the above to assure you’re helping to keep yourself and others protected. The main question we are being asked is how you can help. At this time the greatest needs are financial. If you have the capacity to donate than please consider the following options: Community Kitchen and Foodbank Fund and Better Together COVID-19 Response Fund

With everyone’s focus being on COVID-19 you may have forgotten we were on the hunt for a new leader. We are pleased to share that we’ve hired a new CEO for the Community Foundation. A big thanks goes out to our incredible hiring team for their thorough decision making as we move the CF into a new decade with exciting opportunities. This is an incredible individual that we are eager to introduce you all too, however, we’re going to keep them just to ourselves for a few more days. Be sure to keep an eye out on our social media and your emails in early April as we finally get to introduce you to our new Executive Director and CEO and hear they’re welcome message. 

Tracey Vavrek will be staying with the CF until mid April to help integrate our newest team member. We’re so grateful to Tracey for continuing to put the CF first to assure it’s as strong as possible. We’re so glad to have Tracey for a few more weeks but alas we must still bid a fond farewell to our fearless leader and CEO for the past 19 years. We are sad to see her go but thank her for the immense and vast work she has achieved in growing the CF to what it is today. For the first time ever we are getting the opportunity to share the story of the Vince and Tracey Vavrek Family Fund (see below) and encourage you to take the time to hear how this incredible lady and her partner in crime helped create and have been avid supporters of the CF for the past two decades.

We leave you with this final thought from the great Oscar Wilde; “When it rains look for rainbows. When it’s dark look for stars”.

Your friends,

Tracey, Rhonda and Devon

Vince and Tracey Vavrek Family Fund

It’s not easy to build something from nothing, but in the case of the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, that’s exactly what a group of citizens from Grande Prairie did more than 25 years ago.

Vince Vavrek was among that group from Grande Prairie who attended a conference about community foundations in Saskatoon and decided such an organization would be a great fit for their community.

“Grande Prairie didn’t have a savings account that would be for the entire community,” he explains. “There are other organizations that do this but they are specific to their organization.  Community foundation is to support community from top to bottom.”

It took nine months to get charitable status and a few more years to get the ball really rolling and establish the Community Foundation. “We really started with nothing,” he says.

Since being established in 1996, the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta has grown to a charitable organization with just under $10 million in assets, a recognized leader in the Community Foundation movement and a leader in building community.

For the last 19 years, Tracey Vavrek has been at the helm as the CEO of the foundation. Tracey knew Vince had been involved with the foundation and was familiar with it through the Kids With Cancer group that had received funding through the foundation.

Encouraged by many in the community to apply for the job when it was posted, she did some deep diving and was amazed at the impact community foundations have.

“It’s so humbling to see how far it’s come in that time,” says Tracey, who recently announced she would be retiring from the position. “We’ve had support from community, partnerships developed, trust from community, amazing support from corporations, individuals, volunteers. It’s just amazing to see the impact of the foundation and the millions of dollars that have gone back into the region as a result of the foundation.”

As a founder and leader of the organization, Vince and Tracey are also very strong supporters of the foundation, having established the Vince and Tracey Vavrek Family Fund.

“I’ve always been a believer if you’re going to go out and ask people for money, time, energy, you better be walking the talk,” says Vince.” Lead by example.  It’s just the right thing to do. If it is something you believe in why wouldn’t you support it?  The idea that you can make a difference, not only now, but forever that’s really intriguing.”

For Tracey, giving back to the community that has provided so much support for their family over the years was a natural move. “We wouldn’t be who we are today without this community,” she says.

The couple established their fund as a Community Impact Fund with the foundation; meaning grants from the fund are used where the need is most.

“The idea of the Community Impact Fund and why it was so appealing to us is that as our family continues to nurture and grow and live in this community. We don’t know what’s up and coming but the Community Impact Fund will respond to that. Recognizing that Community Impact Fund is future focused and our donations are going to be hard at work being relevant forever.  That’s a big thing to be proud of,” she says.

For Vince and Tracey, being able to give back and seeing the impact the community foundation has had means everything. “And it’s not about our names being on those grants.  It’s about knowing that those grants are going out to the community and impacting our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, the general population that we may never meet, but it’s impacting the community,” says Tracey.

The fact that that impact will continue long after they are gone is another driver in their continued support of the foundation

“To be able to know that when we leave this world, it will be better, that’s a legacy that we are proud to be able to leave,” she says.

“There is no area of the community that the foundation does not support,” adds Vince reiterating, “Community built all of us. We wouldn’t be who we are without what our communities have given us.”

You can make a difference in our community – not only for today but forever. When you make a donation to the Vince and Tracey Vavrek Family Fund, we invest that gift into a permanent endowment fund and the original gift is never spent. Earnings from your gift are distributed in our community to support all needs in the community.  Donations can be made online here – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/42979 or by calling the Community Foundation at (780) 538-2820. 

Community Kitchen and Foodbank Fund

At this time we have implemented a Community Kitchen and Foodbank Fund where monies will be allocated to the community as needed. Donations can be made here – http://ow.ly/Oaj450yRl0D When donating to your local food bank, consider starting with your wallet. Donating money not only gives food banks flexibility over which supplies — including fresh foods and paper products — to offer but also lets them decide when to refresh their stocks.

Better Together COVID-19 Response Fund

We are excited to announce that our Board of Directors recognize the work we can do in the community and have responded by finding $20,000 in our portfolio to contribute to this fund that will immediately be able to help our community.

We continue to monitor this quickly moving situation and are working to provide supports that will assist and help those most vulnerable in our community and bridge the gaps. In response, we have established the Better Together COVID Response Fund to support all sectors serving our community.

We have not dealt with an economic and health crisis prior and recognize these times are unprecedented. This fund will support organizations now as they manage the crisis and will be available as they rebuild to their new norm.

Donations can be made here – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/47451