Connecting with community

The Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation had to make alternate plans to distribute grants when COVID-19 struck. Their solution ultimately led to greater understanding of the work done by groups in the Prince Albert area to serve the community’s need

Submitted photos The Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation presented grants to (clockwise from top left) Fr. David Butorac of St. Alban’s Cathedral, Doug Kinar of the Canadian Mental Health Association — Prince Albert and Louise Zurowski of Catholic Family Services. Submitted photo.

Normally, at about this time of year, Marilyn Peterson would be standing at a podium in front of several dozen chairs set up in the City Hall foyer. The chairs would be filled with community members and community leaders, as well as a few scholarship winners, there to celebrate those who give back to the community’s greatest needs.

That’s how the Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation (PAACF) has historically handed out its annual grants, which fund everything from arts and entertainment initiatives to ongoing support for victims of crime to programs that help build capacity in families or feed the hungry.

“These people have put a lot of work into developing these projects,” Peterson said when reached by phone Monday.

“These projects do meet a real need out there in the community, and it has always been wonderful for us to have a public gathering and proclaim to as many people as we can the good work each group is doing.”

That would normally be achieved through the annual, public granting ceremony. But then COVID-19 came around. Public gatherings were restricted. City Hall, the home of these celebrations, was closed to the public.

But the PAACF still had grants to hand out, and programs to highlight.

This year, instead of recipients coming to the foundation, the foundation came to them.

Monday morning the foundation announced 14 recipients, who split a combined $85,937 in grants.

Since they weren’t able to gather in person, Peterson and PAACF board members travelled to several of the organizations over the past weeks or had the organizations come to them.

The result was better than expected.

“We really enjoyed it,” Peterson said.

“It was a little unexpected how much we all enjoyed it. We talked about how we can incorporate some of this into next year because it worked so well. Hopefully, it’s part of an ongoing process with groups in the community.”

Peterson said the foundation had always thought it would be nice to meet some of the people organizing these projects in person. While there is a little bit of time for that at the annual grant ceremony, the number of people and a limited amount of time leaves people feeling hurried.

This way, they were able to meet with different people one-on-one and discuss their projects in more detail.

“I know the board members couldn’t have been more enthusiastic,” Peterson said.

“The recipients were able to show us this is what they do here. It was fantastic, and I know the recipients also appreciated the chance to meet the way we did. BY making the effort to get together in smaller groups, it was another way of showing … how much we appreciate their work and how anxious we are to help get this project going.”

Projects include food programs, group counselling and concerts

While 14 projects were funded this year, the Herald was able to connect with three of the successful applicants Monday. Here’s what they had to say:

Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr — St. Alban’s Recital Series

St. Alban’s Cathedral received $3,000 to help put on four concert recitals. All funds will go towards supporting the Firebird North Systema Music Program, an afterschool music and arts program launched last year by Kathleen Clarke; and towards Voices of the North, run by Sheryl Kimbley.

Fr. David Butorac said the concerts began last year and have only been growing in popularity.

“If you like music, come and listen. All of the money goes to two different organizations,” he said.

“It’s for music lovers, but it also supports musicians. St. Alban’s is into supporting music and helping the next generation.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have made it more complicated, Butorac said they still intend to move forward.

“In the next few weeks, we’re going to start organizing for the fall and the winter. We’re going to follow the provincial guidelines; we’re going to do our best to organize as large as a concert as possible. We’re very eager to keep going with this.”

Admission to the concerts has been by freewill donation and has included artists such as violinist Michael Swan, pianist Gillian Lyons and singer Megan Fournier Mewis.

Canadian Mental Health Association — hydroponic gardening

The Canadian Mental Health Association — Prince Albert branch received $8,000 towards a program that will see clients help grow vegetables for the centre’s lunch program.

The program feeds up to 7,200 meals per year.

“We have a lunch program that we do on a regular basis, and we wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to grow vegetables,” executive director Doug Kinar said.

‘We wanted a program that would allow us to grow vegetables for our lunch program to help reduce our grocery bill, and it gives all of our participants interesting stuff to do in terms of learning the gardening process, the harvesting process and being involved right from the seed to the supper table.”

The affordable meal plan is offered at the Nest, the drop-in centre located on Central Ave., daily. It’s designed to be a safe place for people to gather as they journey to recovery. They also have a kitchen program that helps those interested in learning how to cook and bake. The meal they prepare is served as part of the affordable meal program.

The hydroponic gardening space will be converted from a storage space at the Nest.

Catholic Family Services — Parenting from the heart

Parenting from the heart will teach better parenting skills and help parents address questions from children who have experienced trauma. That will be taught along with other skills to strengthen the family unit.

The project received $4,200 from the PAACF. It will be run in two group sessions.

“It’s one of our newer programs,” explained executive director Louise Zurowski.

“It’s focused specifically on the issue of trauma and violence. Our intention is to work with families who have dealt with trauma. It will help parents whose children have been exposed to violence and trauma in other capacities as well.”

The program will go a bit deeper than other parenting programs offered, Zurowksi said.

Programs are set up based on what clients our councillors say is needed.

Group programs, such as this one, will be smaller and be run differently due to COVID-19 restrictions, Zurowski said.

She said Catholic Family Services was “very appreciative” of the funding.

Other projects:

–       Association des Association des Parents Fransaskois – CREPE project: To increase French resources at the Learning Centre., $2,000

–       CPL Recreation — Wilderness Adventure: to provide children of all ages an opportunity to learn about the environment, shorelines and forest education, $8,000

–       Family Futures — Milk Coupon Program: involves more than 300 women, who each receive 6L of milk per week for three months, $10,000

–       Jubilation Residential Centres and the Seniors Advocacy Centre — Prince Albert Senior and Elder Abuse Project: To provide navigation and advocacy counselling to seniors by assessment, referral, case management and follow-up, $5,330

–       Make-A-Wish Foundation: To cover the costs of granting a wish to a child from the P.A.area. There are six on the waiting list, $5,000

–       P.A. branch of Inclusion Sask. — Interec 2020: To provide inclusion companions for people with intellectual disabilities for summer activities, $7,500

–       P.A. Mobile Crisis — Domestic Violence Emergency Intervention: To provide 24/7 intervention and sexual assault counselling, $10,667.50

–       P.A. Multicultural Council — Tapestrama Cultural Festival 2020: To help cover costs of a three-day multicultural art and folk festival, $3,000

–       Saskatchewan Environmental Society — bus subsidies for the Smarter Science Better buildings program: to provide for students to go to the program, $3,000

–       SHARE — mentorship program: To provide direction to participants in social events and to promote arts and culture with trained volunteer companions, $6,240

–       YWCA — Our house Cold Weather Shelter: To help with costs of a shelter in the winter months aimed at harm reduction, providing 10-15 beds, $10,000