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Community Foundation recognizes volunteers

Lauren MacGill

Jill Friesen (right) was named Plum Coulee's Citizen of the Year at the Plum Coulee Community Foundation's AGM on May 3. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

Jill Friesen (right) was named Plum Coulee's Citizen of the Year at the Plum Coulee Community Foundation's AGM on May 3. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

PLUM COULEE - 

After another successful financial year, the Plum Coulee Community Foundation gave $20,078 back to the community and celebrated contributions to the community at their AGM on May 3.

“The fund keeps growing,” Community Foundation chair Heather Unger said. “That’s the beauty of it growing every year, we can give away a little bit more every year.”
Unger said awareness about the Community Foundation has been growing as well. “People have become more aware of us and our young community has lots of needs,” she said. “That’s new. There’s lots of excitement in the sports programs, those are all new programs, so there’s never a shortage of people needing some financial help.

The reserve fund has grown from $133,00 in 2008 to just over $378,000.

The Plum Coulee School Youth in Philanthropy program was able to grant to several different organizations. $900 went to the Plum Coulee Prairieview Elevator Museum, which also received $2,000 from the Foundation. Pembina Valley Humane Society received $500. $1,100 went to The Centre on Main, which also received an additional $1,000 from the Community Foundation.

Plum Fest 2018 received $1,600. $600 went to the community hall, $650 to the Plum Coulee School Advisory Council and $1,150 to Plum Coulee School. The town of Plum Coulee saw a $1,000 donation, and $4,728 went into the Plum Coulee Prairieview Elevator Maintenance Fund.

This year also saw significant donations to sports. Plum Coulee Minor Soccer received $350, Plum Coulee Minor Baseball, which has about 100 kids registered to play, received $1,500 for dugouts on the west and south diamonds (along with some general upgrades). Plum Coulee House League Hockey also received $1,500. South Central Aerials received $1,500 as well.

The Community Foundation also took a moment to recognize both their Citizen of the Year and Community Builder of the Year, representing current and past contributor to the area.

Jill Friesen was named Citizen of the Year.

Friesen said it came as a bit of a surprise to her to learn that she had been nominated and won. “It’s usually someone older who has done a lot more in the community than myself,” she said.

Friesen has been a parent volunteer at special events for Plum Coulee School, as well as helping with the early year kids’ skate. She coaches community baseball, serves on the committee for Mom’s Morning Out.

“I like being involved in things,” Friesen said. “Part of it is that if you want to see change and see things progress then you have to be willing to step up and make that happen. Especially in a small town, you can’t expect someone else to do it.”

Friesen is originally from Winnipeg. Her husband is from Killarney, and the two lived in Winnipeg until they moved to the Dominican Republic for four years.
After that, the two moved to Plum Coulee.

Friesen also organized community meals, which were a great success. “They seemed to grow every time,” she said. “It was bridging some of the cultural gaps in the community and [people could] sit with someone and start a conversation. I heard a lot of people talking like, ‘I never knew that person was in my community.’ Those little things were an accomplishment, because people were able to meet people they wouldn’t in their everyday circle.”

The last community meal served about 350 people.

“What an amazing person,” Plum Coulee Community Foundation chair Heather Unger said. “She has come forward as a new person in the community to give of her time so generously. She has wrapped up her community meal program, so the timing felt good to say thank you for all the hard work she had done.”

Unger said Friesen was nominated by multiple people.

Friesen said right now she is taking a break from organizing future meals, but hopes to have them again in the future.

The Community Foundation also honoured William (Bill) Wiebe as Community Builder of the Past. Wiebe died in 2005.

“I think he would been pretty humbled,” Wiebe’s son Ron said. “He was a very humble man. He’d say, ‘It’s not that big a deal.’”

“He worked hard to provide for his family, which he did very well,” he added. “He put a lot of time into helping the growth of the community.”

Ron said his dad was a man of few words who led by example. “He lived to be 96 so I was able to really spend time with him in his last 20 years,” he said. “He found it hard to say no to people that needed him.”

“We like having lots of services in our small towns and we can only have them with volunteer help,” Unger said. “Our grants help the volunteers, and we need to recognize them and say ‘Thank you’ to those who did it before us and those who are making a big difference right now.”

“Our organization feels strongly about helping volunteers,” she added.