Random Act of Kindness Day is approaching quickly. I appreciate the impact of what this day means for everyone. Our community is a melting pot of wonderful people from many cultures and diversities. With the many distractions, challenges and busy lifestyles we need to cultivate kindness more than ever, not only for our society, but for our own well-being. Kindness gives us a warm feeling. We are wired for kindness and designed to foster relationships and thrive. This day is an opportunity to appreciate each other, take the time to slow down, be grateful and to give back.
Kindness is contagious. Studies show when you are kind to one person, it inspires others to lead and offer kindness to more people.
There are many benefits of being kind to each other. It creates a stronger community, and strengthens bonds within groups or sectors, improves mental and physical health, and feels good emotionally. I encourage you to stop and take time to be mindful of your kindness. Consider stepping outside of your comfort zone and offer an extra smile and hello, or do something for someone that maybe you wouldn’t normally.
On Friday, November 2nd the Community Foundation invites you to take the opportunity to connect with each other and with our community through kindness.
Interested in learning more on creating a personalized giving plan in support of the community that means so much to you? Contact me to explore giving through an endowment fund held at your Community Foundation.
Connect people. Build community. For good, and forever.
Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund
With a passion for helping others, Dustin Sieker touched many lives during his career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and EMS Operation Supervisor in Grande Prairie.
“Dustin was the backbone to EMS and first responders. He worked hard and always had a smile on his face. He was a mentor, a supporter and a friend to many; his colleagues were his family,” says friend Danielle Joly.
It was a shock to many when Dustin died by suicide in May 2018 at the age of 36.
From that shock and grief, friends and family banded together to help raise awareness of the effects of PTSD in the first responders and the increasing rate of suicide among this population.
After a few fundraisers they turned to the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta for assistance and have created the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund to ensure his legacy lives on.
Born and raised in the Grande Prairie area, Dustin took his EMT training in Medicine Hat before returning to Grande Prairie to work.
“Dustin was a big part of this community and keeping it safe and in saving lives,” says Dustin’s mom Belinda Sieker. “He supported this community daily through his job, and supporting our region is important to us, as well as raising awareness about mental health (PTSD and suicide awareness) with first responders, and even more specifically to paramedics, is necessary.”
For Joly and the family, having the support of the Community Foundation to help focus their fundraising efforts and create the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund has been inspiring.
“After Dustin’s passing I found strength and peace in the idea of building this legacy. Meeting his friends and family from all over the world and seeing the community support such a great man was inspiration to me. I knew that I wanted to increase the awareness of suicide prevention and PTSD. Having raised money from the sale of suicide awareness bracelets and keychains, I wasn’t sure how to best utilize these funds. It was important to me to give back to the community, raise awareness and preserve Dustin’s legacy. Meeting with Tracey Vavrek and Tracy Zuk at the Community Foundation helped me realize exactly how everything I had envisioned in my head could be facilitated by such an organization,” says Joly.
The Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund will focus on offering student awards for advanced care paramedics and will also contribute to mental health programs in our community.
“Dustin was very dedicated to helping people and was passionate about his career as a paramedic and first responder,” says Belinda. “Even though Dustin has passed, the fact that his name and fund will continue to give back and support the community is massive to us. We have all been learning from Dustin’s passing and we want to continue to learn from this experience and help others who could be struggling.”
You can make a difference in our community – not only for today but forever. When you make a donation to the Dustin Sieker Legacy Fund, we invest that gift into a permanent endowment fund and the original gift is never spent. Earnings from your gift is distributed to a student award and through grants to mental health programs in our community. Donations can be made online here – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/37407 or by calling the Community Foundation at (780) 538-2820.
Grande Prairie and Area Safe Communities Home Alone Program
It can be a tough decision for parents to know when their kids are ready to be left at home on their own for an hour or two. That age may differ for each child and each family. For those in Grande Prairie and area, kids and families can get a boost in confidence and knowledge through the Grande Prairie and Area Safe Communities Home Alone Program.
With funding from the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, the Home Alone program saw more than 300 youngsters through its program in 2017, and more than 200 from January to August 2018.
Since 2010, the program has focused on providing safety education of children between the ages of 8 and 11, offering kids an increase in safety knowledge and self-confidence. Parents gain peace of mind knowing their children are aware of the importance of safety and have the tools to stay safe and prevent injuries while they are alone.
“My child enjoyed the course and appreciates the responsibility now that she has been given. I only leave them home for about an hour when I do go out and I know that she knows what to do if anything were to happen,” says one parent.
For some parents the support from the Home Alone Program helps prepare their children to remain safe while spending short periods of time alone. It can also help older kids who are experiencing anxiety about spending time alone feel safer in their daily lives and reduce the levels of stress they may experience.
The program has also assisted children with disabilities, who are not staying home alone, to become more aware of safety and to build some valuable life skills.
“She can come home, let herself in the house and call me at work and not be stressed out for the 45 minutes she is home alone. As well, when her dad is on night shift, she can be ‘home alone’ for most of the day while he sleeps,” notes another parent.
“The support of the Community Foundation is important for us as an organization because it enables us to deliver the Home Alone program 17 times per year, to provide healthy snacks, improve our course materials and acquire needed teaching materials and equipment,” says Cindy Blinston, Acting Executive Director of Safe Communities. “The support of the Community Foundation for our organization and our programs is very much appreciated!”
In addition to benefitting from the grants provided by the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, Grande Prairie and Area Safe Communities also contributes to an endowment fund with the Community Foundation.
“We feel that the value that the Community Foundation offers to our community is immeasurable,” says Blinston. “By funding a large variety of local programs, services and scholarships, the Community Foundation is a vital part of improving quality of life for residents and promoting a safe and inclusive culture in our area. The endowment fund that we are contributing to with the Community Foundation allows us to build a source of renewable and stable funding to help support our own projects and allows us to assist with support of other programs in our community through the foundation.”
Where are they now?
Grande Prairie’s Jordan McTaggart was awarded The Storm “Stay In School” Junior A Hockey Scholarship Fund in 2014 from the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta.
The former Grande Prairie Storm junior A hockey player is currently working towards finishing his Bachelor of Science majoring in Kinesiology at the University of Alberta-Augustana, after three years at Red Deer College.
“This award definitely helped me pay for schooling and all the expenses that comes with it,” says McTaggart, who has continued his hockey career with Red Deer College and the Augustana Vikings.
An athlete with a passion for helping others, McTaggart opened up TAGS Athletic Gym in Grande Prairie during the summer of 2017 to help train young athletes in the off-season.
“I am planning to open a full-time athletic training facility in Grande Prairie once I am done my degree to help develop elite athletes and give them the necessary tools and facility that I believe Grande Prairie and area has been lacking,” he says.
Student Awards will re-open in 2019 for application. Watch for upcoming details.
You can make a difference in our community – not only for today but forever. Whether you’re contributing to a fund in your name, supporting a legacy that you connect with or simply wanting to make an impact on community – a donation to your Community Foundation helps to build Smart & Caring communities throughout our region. Donations can be made online here –https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/5797 or by calling the Community Foundation at (780) 538-2820. Earnings from your gift are distributed to student awards or through community impact grants to numerous innovative charitable projects, large and small.