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20 years just the beginning for Community Foundation

The Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta has been making an impact on communities across the region for 20 years. The board and members of the public took Thursday night to celebrate and fundraise even more at the annual Nourish the North Wine and Auction event. CEO Tracey Vavrek says the whole organization started with a donation of $50.

“20 years ago, this was a vision that was formed and the vision was to create this organization, and wow! The 20 years has been an amazing journey. We are so blessed with the community that we have and the support we’ve had, but also what we’ve been able to do in 20 years; we have been able to help our community immensely.”

The community foundation connects donors with local causes they care about through grants and regional funds. More than $4.38 million has been dispersed over the last two decades, and an initiative was launched at Thursday’s event that aims to raise more. Vavrek says they’ve started a kindness meter, based on something she saw in Victoria, B.C.

“It’s a city parking meter that is now painted in the Community Foundation colours and labelled as ‘kindness meter’. As you walk past the meter, if you have some change in your pocket, plunk it in; then when we collect the change, it’s all going to go back to great projects in our community.”

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Those include programs for youth at risk, seniors in need of transportation, and local shelters. The first kindness meter will be found at the Eastlink Centre.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is a major supporter of community foundations, and spoke to the crowd at Nourish the North. He shared his experience with the 2013 southern Alberta floods, and says the biggest lesson he learned from the disaster was that people have an incredible capacity to help.

“We do a great job after disasters – an amazing job – and how do we take that same power and apply it to the silent floods that hit our communities every day? Poverty, homelessness, hunger, environmental justice, economic prosperity, prosperity for our Indigenous brothers and sisters; we have the power to change all of those things.”

Nenshi has launched a campaign for Canada’s 150th anniversary next year, asking every citizen to do three acts of service – big or small – and to tell three other people to do the same. He also shared his message with a thousand local students earlier in the day, which was streamed live online to at least a thousand others.

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