Our Beginnings

written by Gerald Hawranik.

A Community Foundation is a registered non-profit charitable organization that provides funds to other charitable non-profit groups in any community. One of the most difficult tasks of any non-profit group is to raise sufficient resources in order to carry on its purposes and goals. Non-profit groups provide essential services to our community that make our community a better place to live, to work, and to raise a family.

As an avid community volunteer and as a lawyer practicing law in Beausejour, I was aware that our non-profit groups in the Beausejour, Brokenhead, Tyndall, Garson areas were struggling to deliver services because of a lack of funds available to them. The only sources of funds were local government sources such as the Town of Beausejour, the RM of Brokenhead, as well as some Provincial and Federal grants, if they were available, and of course, the arduous task of fund raising. I felt that there should be another source of funds available to them, so I contacted and organized a group of interested, committed community volunteers to investigate the possibility of establishing a Community Foundation and to serve as members on our first Board of Directors.

It was a tremendous challenge, both in terms of raising funds for the Foundation to invest and in terms of creating awareness within our community with respect to our Foundation.

The name “Brokenhead River Community Foundation Inc.” was selected because it was felt that the name reflected the geographical area from which donations would be solicited and the area within which non-profits would benefit.

I contacted the Thomas Sill Foundation in Winnipeg to be included within its list of sponsored Community Foundations and our Community Foundation was approved. This was a tremendous opportunity for our Foundation, because under the Agreement, the Thomas Sill Foundation would provide 50 cents to our Foundation for every dollar we could raise within a 3 year period, to a maximum contribution of $100,000 from the Thomas Sill Foundation. This meant if our Foundation could raise $200,000 within 3 years, then the Thomas Sill Foundation would contribute $100,000 to our Foundation. This was a significant challenge for the Board of Directors of our Foundation, but through a great deal of hard work, we met and exceeded that challenge for the benefit of the community. We held casino nights, fundraising dinners, a crop plot fundraiser, and many other events in order to raise the money. Articles about our Foundation were submitted semi-monthly to raise the public’s awareness about the Foundation. We contacted business owners, residents of our community, and our local and provincial governments for financial support. All of this effort created awareness within our community about the goals, objectives and purposes of our Community Foundation.

It is gratifying when we see what the Foundation has done for our community – when we see the grants and support that is given year after year to our non-profit groups, and when we see the Scholarships that are given to deserving graduates of Edward Schreyer School. It is also gratifying when we see the Foundation supporting our Youth in Philanthropy group, because instilling a sense of charity and compassion in our young people can only benefit our community in the future.

All in all, the formation of and ensuring the success of the Brokenhead River Community Foundation Inc. was a tremendous challenge, but was also a very satisfying and gratifying experience. The future looks very bright for our Foundation and our community and we look forward to the continuing success and growth of both.

The first Board of Directors were as follows:

President – Gerald Hawranik

Vice-President – Linda Pleskach

Secretary – Vicky Witzke

Treasurer – Wilf Hastman

Directors – Bruce Schade

Fred Kazina

Art Berry

Karen Zink (June 98)

Gerry Denisiuk