Mental health supports, education programs, and recreation facilities and just a few of the items that received a much-needed boost on Wednesday when the Prince Alberta and Area Community Foundation handed out more than $136,000 in community grants.
Community Foundation chair Bill Powalinsky said it’s more important than ever to support local community projects, since fundraising opportunities were at a premium over the last two years. He’s hopeful these grants can help make up for those lost chances.
“I think, particularly in today’s inflationary economy, the work that the foundation is doing is even more important,” he said following Wednesday’s ceremony.
This year, the Community Foundation received twice as many proposals than they normally due, with combined requests totally four times as much money as the foundation had to give away.
During the ceremony, Powalinsky stressed that they wished they could fund even more activities given the need.
The Rotary Club of Prince Albert received the largest grant at $29,250. That money will go towards completing the new Rotary Adventure Park at Little Red.
The Prince Albert Historical Society and Tamarack Foundation tied for the second highest grant, with both groups receiving $15,000 each. The Historical Society plans to use their funding to create education programs for students, and outreach programs for seniors. A representative from the Tamarck Foundation was not at Wednesday’s event.
Other grant recipients include Family Futures, which received $10,750 to start a new teen mental health plan to stop the increase in youth suicide and self-harm. The Firebird North Sistema Music Program received $10,000 to create and music and movement program starting at King George School, with the goal of spreading it across the community.
The Kistahpinanihk Paddling Club received $13,000 to buy trailers, life jackets, paddles, and eight canoes. They plan to use the equipment to attract more youth to the sport. The Prince Albert branch of Inclusion Saskatchewan received $5,000 to begin an Inclusion Program that provides one-on-one support so individuals with intellectual or physical disabilities can be out in the community.
Powalinsky said the diversity and variety of the programs really stood out, and shows Prince Albert residents are doing plenty of good in the community.
“PA is such an unusual City in terms of volunteerism and people working together and philanthropist activity,” he said. “It’s a tremendously gratifying experience, and when you take a look at the width and breadth and depth of the activities, you know that you’re making a big impact.”
The Community Foundation also provided three $1,000 scholarship to local youth on Wednesday.
Big River High School student Lucas Klassen was one of those students to receive a scholarship. He said it’s gratifying to see his work in the community recognized, even though that’s not why he did it.
“I was pretty happy, and very pleased,” Klassen said after the ceremony. “It’s nice to see when your community work pays off. It’s always paid off when you see younger kids get to enjoy the things you got to when you were at that age, but I was pretty excited when I heard I got the scholarship.”
Klassen received the scholarship for his work coaching youth sports in Big River, particularly hockey. He decided to become involved after COVID-19 forced most organized sports activities to shut down.
“The kids who missed out on two or three years of hockey there, I just wanted them to have the same experience I got—full coaching and everything,” he explained.
After graduating in June, Klassen plans to move to Saskatoon, where he’s enrolled at Saskatchewan Polytechnic to become a heavy-duty mechanic. After that, he plans on returning to school to become a journeymen welder.
He encouraged all graduating students to apply for scholarships, even if they didn’t think they would win.
“Do scholarships even when you don’t want to,” he said. “You do enough of them, and eventually you’ll get one.”
Carlton Comprehensive High School’s Jaylyn Marsh and Prince Albert Collegiate Institute’s Layna Marino also received scholarships.