Thirty years ago, it started as a dream as several community members banded together in order to create something that would benefit the region year after year. It was 1993 when the Thomas Sill Foundation announced the assignment of one million dollars to help create ten new community foundations in rural and northern Manitoba. A pledge of $100,000 payable over four years was promised if a further $200,000 was raised in the community and Portage was selected to be one of those communities.
In the spring of 1994, the challenge was accepted and a steering committee was formed with representatives from business, arts, service organizations, education, and other groups in the community. Over the next eight weeks, a great deal of hard work brought the foundation into existence, and by the end of 1995, thanks to 162 founding members, the goal was not only reached but surpassed. The fund would always remain, and interest from that fund would be used to grant money back to the area.
Despite the foundation being around for decades, some people still have questions. So, as part of the annual giving challenge, the Foundation is hosting an open house between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Thursday. The giving challenge is an event where if people decide to make a donation, it will be stretched. Vice-chair of the foundation, Cathie McFarlane explains.
"This week only, until the end of the day Sunday, the Winnipeg Foundation, the Manitoba government, Simplot and DeLong Wealth Management will all pitch in a dollar for every five dollars donated. So $5 turns into $9. $10 to $18, $20 to $36 and so on."
McFarlane adds the open house serves several purposes.
"People sometimes don't totally understand that the Community Foundation is actually going to be there forever, and that's ok. We just want people to know that their donations go into a fund that now has over twelve and a half million dollars. It's the interest earnings that we use in order to fund the grants and the various initiatives that we have going out from the foundation. It's a time to come in and meet some of the board of directors and the staff. There will also be some refreshments, so that might be a good day to make a donation. We want to make sure it's as easy as possible to give to the foundation."
With that in mind, the board has also made it very easy to make donations online as well. Plus, there are many options available when it comes to donating and information will be available.
McFarlane adds thanks to the generosity of people in the area, hundreds of thousands of dollars flow back into the community and surrounding area each year and almost every group, club and project along with hundreds of individuals have benefitted over the years.
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