May 2015



"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."  ~Francis of Assisi


Our team wasfortunate to have attended the Community Foundations of Canada Conference held in Calgary in early May,  "The Wild Wild Why". . . 


We were inspired by the over 600 delegates from across the globe with a common message about The Community Foundation Movement and the specific purpose to serve our communities.  Our movement is a resilient and diverse engaging communities we live in.  


What is Your "Why"?


"Every organization knows WHAT they do; some know HOW they do it:  But only the inspired organizations know WHY they do what they do.   The Why has nothing to do with revenue or profit;  these are just results.  It is the higher purpose, cause or belief.  It is what the organization stands for and inspires others who believe what we believe to join in that cause either as colleagues, supportors, customers or clients."  (* - David Meade)


A part of our "Why" are the stories our communityshares. Throughout the Conference we heard many stories about communities and the people behind them, many talked about the importance of Vital Signs as their report card for the community, identifyingwhere needs are. Vital Signs helps to answer our "why".   As The Victoria Foundation shared, "The Vital Signs Report has turned us Outside in". Through the results of previous reports, the Victoria Foundation shifted their granting program to look at what areas are they addressing like high school completion as Vital Signs reported that non-completion rate of high school students was at 30%, which now sits at 8%. 


Our own Vital Signs project has given us important information around our youth, newcomers, neighborhood associations, homelessness and obesity.   We want to be a Smart & Caring Community and Vital Signs helps us see where the needs are.


   " The Most Important Thing

Is to Keep The Most Important

Thing ...THE most Important Thing!

We must tackle the wicked problems together. . ."

~Zita Cobb


Please feel free to contact me at 780-538-2820 or by replying to this e-mail to discuss how you can partner with the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta and how you can impact and inspire others in your community.

Your community makes you. And you make your community.


Your Voice is Important!   
Have you taken the Vital Signs Survey?


If you live or work in the City of Grande Prairie, County of Grande Prairie or nearby communities, tell us what you think about your quality of life? What's working? What would you improve?


Our Grande Prairie Area's Vital Signs survey results are used by community decision-makers and by local citizens to identify where the most "pressing" needs are in the community and where we need to "stay the course." It examines a number of topics including transportation, housing and homelessness, environment, education, sense of belonging and much more.


Vital Signs is the only project of its kind in our region, its purpose to inform our community by looking at both the statistics and citizens' perceptions . . . we know that the two can tell very different, but very important stories. Our communities can then be connected to the issues in an informed manner so we can most effectively respond to local needs and priorities.


Take the Survey Here which will be distributed this October. 



Your Community Foundation Team: Tracey Vavrek, Heather Coney, Lindsey McNeil, Ryan Blais and Amanda Reimer

The Bigger Picture
Community Foundations in Canada and Across the Globe 


The words echoed through the conference hall as he repeated them again "People across the globe lay awake at night dreaming that one day they will be Canadian." Khalil Shariff, the guest speaker and CEO of Aga Khan Foundation of Canada paused to let us absorb the magnitude of his words. There was no thunderous applause; no swelling of our chests in National pride; there was only silence and gentle nodding, and the realization of 600 people that our kind, compassionate, smart and caring communities are what people in the world aspire towards. We were humbled.


We had come from communities small and large across the country to attend the Community Foundations of Canada conference where we would learn and grow together, to help improve our own communities through philanthropy. In that moment, with that simple phrase it became clear; this was not just about the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, or the Community Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, or The Winnipeg Foundation, this was part of a bigger picture.


So what is the bigger picture?


The bigger picture is a beautiful one, painted in the success stories of our movement.


It is the story of Carol and Rosebud from Mission British Columbia. Carol, a nurse by day spends her personal time operating the Senior Animals in Need Today Society on her own property. She rescues senior animals like Rosebud; a skeletal, skittish Rottweiler, who was in so much physical pain she would cower and wail at the touch of a human hand. Through the help of the Vancouver Foundation, Carol is able to tend to these forgotten animals and provide them comfort in their old age. Under the compassionate care of Carol Rosebud was able to be treated for her pain, and spent the last six months of her life being truly loved and cared for.


It is the story of the H.O.P.E Society in Yarmouth Nova Scotia, who in desperate need of repairs to their wheelchair accessible bus reached out to the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia for support. With their help, they were able to get their bus back up and running, giving people with disabilities in rural Nova Scotia the chance to be a little more independent.


The bigger picture is one that is not only touching Canadian lives, but reaching out across the world.

Mariam is a single mother raising four children in Garissa County Kenya; an area where the majority of the population still lacks access to electricity and live in manyattas constructed of grass, mud, and wood. Mariam's life is not an easy one, half of the population lives in poverty with limited access to clean water, consistent food, and education, and Mariam was struggling to provide for her children. Hope came to her community, through the Kenya Community Development Foundation, which helped support the construction of a safe early childhood centre for the struggling members of Mariam's community. With this help, Mariam's life began to change, she was able to nourish her children and work on her business. Since the construction, her children have been able to enlist in primary school; she is thriving, and is now working on establishing a legacy fund to ensure the education centre remains for all future families.


Stories of success from across the country and across the globe, are the real foundation of our movement. The stories of success that are arising out of the foundations across the globe remind us that the bigger picture is one of growth, community support, and creating a world we would all want our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to live it.


The bigger picture is one where people no longer have to dream of belonging to another nation, because their own nation is kind, and compassionate, and filled with their own smart and caring communities. The bigger picture is a world where we all do our part regardless of where we are to help build nations, and communities, and neighborhoods we are proud to call home.




Exciting News To Share  
Imagine Canada Accreditation ! 


May 26, 2015 - The Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta today announces that it has been accredited under Imagine Canada's national Standards Program. With this achievement, we join a growing community of more than 125 organizations dedicated to operational excellence.


The Community Foundation is the first organization in the area to receive accreditation.


The Standards Program is a Canada-wide set of shared standards for charities and non-profits designed to strengthen practices in five fundamental areas: board governance; financial accountability and transparency; fundraising; staff management; and volunteer involvement.


"We're proud that our organization has achieved accreditation from Imagine Canada," said Tracey Vavrek, CEO of the Community Foundation. "Transparency and accountable it important to our organization, we appreciate and are very fortunate to have the trust of the community, and this accreditation is our way of demonstrating that we continue to operate at a level of excellence that justifies this trust."


"It's no small feat for an organization to earn Standards Program accreditation," says Bruce

MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada. "It's a rigorous, peer-reviewed process that is meant to build public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. These organizations take accountability and operational transparency very seriously. We're glad to have them on board."


Invest in Trust

The goals of Imagine Canada's Standards Program are to increase the transparency of charities and

non-profits, and to strengthen public confidence in individual organizations and the sector as a whole.


Trust is the foundation for what matters to us, our stakeholders and those who support us. Accredited organizations invest in what matters. We invest in trust. 

Cool Aid Society 
Kids being kids in a safe place . . .


Every day it was the same scene on repeat.


James walked through the door, greeted the leaders and immediately went to the bookshelf. He picked up a book and plopped himself on the worn grey couch, legs curled beneath him.


It was the same book everyday, the pages worn thin from his tiny fingers carefully leafing through its pages.  He studied the images with his eyes and hands, but the words were a jumble. James was in grade two, and he could not read.


The words were intimidating to him, a mess of squiggly lines with no real meaning, but the pictures; the vividly coloured images drew him in.


The staff continually encouraged him, "it is good to enjoy the book even if you can't read the words", they assured him, it was of little comfort to James, but still; every day he came in, everyday he picked up the same book, every day he sat on his same spot on the couch.


Eventually other children grew curious of the quiet boy on the couch, and the staff noticed a shift.

James was no longer sitting alone. Other children were joining him, encouraging him, and guiding him through the words on the page.


Through friendship and peer support James gradually learned to read his book, that book led to others, and James was soon reading just like the other children his age. 


"That is what makes this program unique, Cool-aid is a support to these children" the staff states, " the children are in a group, and they grow as a group. They know what is going on in each others lives, and support each other, these are no cliques, or social status, they are just kids in a safe place where they can be kids, and that is a wonderful thing."


Cool-aid, a free after school and summer program for children in Grande Prairie is a catalyst for change. Everyday there are stories of success such as James' that emerge from the environment created by the caring, dedicated staff of the Cool-Aid Society.


"We are the constant, and the normal in some of these kids lives, we are a family away from their family, and it is wonderful to see them grow. The connections these children build by working and playing together is something you can't teach, and it really is beautiful to witness."


 * while based on a true story, names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved. 

Planning is Going Well. . .
Nourishing the North Event  


We invite you and your organization to be part of our new event - Nourishing the North.  October 15, 2015 at the ENTREC Center.  


Sponsorship opportunities are still available.   Together, we can be a powerful force affecting positive change in our communities. Your sponsorship is greatly appreciated and will continue to impact the region through the work of the Community Foundation.


We would like to Thank our Title Inspire sponsors Ken Sargent GMC Buick Ltd.and Sean Sargent Toyota for joining us again for an amazing event to inspire and nourish our community.


Please feel free to contact Heather Coney at (780) 538-2820 with any questions you may have. I thank you in advance for your consideration in continuing to partner in support of our region.


Your community makes you, and you make your community.  

Stay Connected!
Stay up to date with the Community Foundation

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Smart & Caring Leaders 

We are very proud of the continued relationship with the following corporate leaders. It is this dedication and partnership that ensures the work of the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta positively impacts our community. Please support those who support us!

 Vital Impact



Aquatera Utilities Ltd
ATCO Electric
Auto-Trac Alignment Ltd.
G & M Plumbing & Heating
Greenblade Landscaping Ltd.
LSM - Lee's Sheet Metal (2007) Ltd.
Northern Gateway Pipelines

 Neil Holdings Inc.
Prairie Villa Insurance

Royal LePage - The Realty Group; John Krol & Angie Peters

Willsey Davis & Co. LLP