Two local not-for-profits received a mutual boost this past week from Portage la Prairie's Citizens On Patrol Program (COPP). The proceeds were the result of the COPP Golf Tournament held September 1, which was yet another event postponed for two years due to COVID.

COPP spokesperson Rose says it's great to be able to give to such organizations as Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Plains and Recreation Opportunities Kids Central.

"We presented them with $4,200," says Rose. "It feels fantastic! It takes a lot of people to pull off a golf tournament and after not having one in 2020 and 2021, we were little concerned about how much support we would get. The business community in Portage was absolutely fantastic supporting our whole sponsorship, and the residents that golfed were just great. I think everybody had a pretty good time." 

Big Brothers Big Sisters executive director Dawn Froese adds she appreciates the wonderful input.

"The money is going to be used to help so many kids be able to do some recreational activities, do some art activities, or dance," continues Froese. "I'm looking forward to spending it."

Vienna Muise is executive director with Recreation Opportunities for Kids (ROK) Central, and shares that excitement.

"We just actually received a thank-you card from a child in the community whose foster parents reached out to us and said he'd like to play hockey," adds Muise. "'Can you help us out?' This funding actually allowed him to do that. So, it was a little handwritten thank-you card from him, which is extra nice when we get those. But in general, we've had parents reach out to us. It's difficult, you know. Recreation is not cheap. To be able to do something like this, support kids in Portage, and have them doing fun things and off the streets, it's great. It's exciting."

The two organizations recently started a shared account called Create Or Play (COP).

Muise notes Froese spoke with her about a name, and they wanted to do it in some manner without having to put COPP's name directly in it. "Create Or Play" was the result.

"We actually share that money, so that it's not like one of us runs out of money and has to ask the other," says Froese. "We just work on it together and it's a great partnership just serving the kids in Portage la Prairie."

Muise adds they both work with families.

"We have our specific things we do with families," says Muise. "One of the things that ROK does is specifically help connect those kids up. It's figuring out whether Jumpstart covers it or not (because oftentimes, Jumpstart will do movement-based activity, but not necessarily things like the arts, or not). When it's creative like that, it's a little different. I can help guide different funding streams and make them go further and last longer. It's awesome to do that, but we couldn't do it if we didn't do it together."

Froese says it's fairly new. 

"We've been sharing the COPP fundraising money for a long time, but just recently, we've talked about just making that completely separate," continues Froese. "We're excited to do that."

Both groups extend their many thanks to the RCMP and COPP.

RCMP officer in charge of Central Plains Inspector Paul Peddle agrees that it's wonderful.

"It's very important and such a tremendous donation, as was already mentioned," adds Peddle. "It's been a couple of years that we haven't been able to have the golf tournaments. To be able to have it this year, and to raise this money for two tremendous groups in our community, is extremely positive. We couldn't do it without the great work of COPP. They're a tremendous organization in our community and we're extremely grateful to partner with them every day. It's quite beneficial that they're on our side."

Rose adds this year's gold trounrament was special due to their 30th anniversary. It started with a barbecue and she bids a Happy Birthday to COPP!