How It All Began – Morden is a Community of “Firsts”
The Morden Area Foundation was born out of a simple but powerful challenge. On October 15, 1993, the Thomas Sill Foundation announced a five-year program to help create community foundations across rural Manitoba, offering matching funds of up to $1,000,000 for these communities. The Sill Foundation would match a community’s contributions on a $1.00 to $2.00 basis, giving each community the opportunity to receive up to $100,000 over four years. In addition, the Sill Foundation also provided up to $2,000 in assistance to help community foundations meet start-up costs.
Thomas Sill (1905-1986) was a chartered accountant who was very successful in business. He founded a prominent account firm, Sill, Streuber, Fiske & Company (now BDO Dunwoody), and was very successful in the stock market over several decades. Following his death, the Thomas Sill Foundation was established, which is Manitoba’s largest private charitable foundation.
Morden was the first community in Manitoba to accept the Sill Foundation’s challenge. Local community builders including Ivadell Sigurdson and Marilyn Skubovius worked hard to solicit the donations needed to meet this challenge. In the Foundation’s first annual report for 1993, the directors wrote, “At this point we have raised $25,000 and have received $12,500 from them. This seems like a formidable challenge but quite within our reach.”
By 1996 the fund had grown further, with $75,000 raised from the local community and $37,500 from the Sill Foundation. Fundraising efforts continued, and in October 1997 the Morden Times headlines read, “Morden Foundation hits fundraising target.” The accompanying article quoted foundation spokesperson Marilyn Skubovius: “This community comes through. We were always confident they could do it.”
Morden was also the first community in rural Manitoba to distribute grants, awarding $3,000 in grants in November 1995. Funds were awarded to the Morden Multiplex, Morden Library, Morden Day Care, Morden Caring & Sharing, and the Pembina Valley Bible Camp.
A Special Bequest
In 2008 the Morden Area Foundation learned that Mr. Kenneth Clarence Westfall (1934-2008), a lifelong farmer in the 1-6 area, had included the Foundation in his will. Mr. Westfall was a very private person who did not want an obituary or a memorial service. His estate was split between five local charities, and his ashes were spread on his own property under two old oak trees known as the “swing trees.”
There are many ways that donors, large and small, can give to our community. Contributions can be made through a gift of money, a gift of life insurance by naming the MAF as a beneficiary, a gift in memory of a friend or relative or in a family name, and through bequests like this one. We are grateful for donors like Mr. Westfall. His foresight brings lasting benefit to our community.
2015 – Jean’s Day Donation by Access Credit Union
So many people believe they don’t have a big enough amount saved to give to the MAF … so they end up not giving at all. I always try to point out that every donation no matter how small always counts because it is added to another small donation which is added to another and so on. This donation started with $2 per week per employee over a period of one year which accumulated to $2,442. That is a lot of money that didn’t break any one person’s bank account. Then the Morden ACU matched and leveraged this donation to become a $4,884 donation. Then the Thomas Sill Foundation has matched and leveraged this donation again to turn this donation into a $7,326 donation to the MAF general endowment to be held forever. The money will go directly back into the community through granting on the interest earned from the endowment fund. The crazy part about all this is that it all started with a donation of just $2. Can you imagine where the foundation would be if everyone donated just $2 per week for one year?
2014 – Your Dollars make a difference
In 2006, Elizabeth Janzen nee Hopkins received two scholarships from the Morden Area Foundation. These awards helped Elizabeth to pursue a career in the field of music therapy.
She attended the Canadian Mennonite University, received a university degree, completed the Bachelor of Music Therapy Program, and received accreditation status from the Canadian Association for Music Therapy. Today Elizabeth is working as a fulltime music therapist in both Winnipeg and Steinbach. She works with children with special needs and adults with developmental disabilities.
In a recent letter to the Morden Area Foundation Elizabeth writes, “Thank you for your generous gift that has helped me to become a successful music therapist. Thank you again!”
Breakfast Program – With a $3,500 grant from the Morden Area Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle, Mrs. Jones of the Healthy Minds Breakfast Program is able to provide nutritious breakfast choices for children before school. This grant offsets costs at the Maple Leaf School, Ecole Morden Middle School and the Minnewasta School.
2014 Youth In Philanthropy (YIP)
Evelyn Domitruk has been a member of YIP at the Morden Collegiate Institute for three years. Phillip Duncan is the teacher guiding the YIP students along this philanthropic journey. YIP falls under the MAF umbrella and each year that YIP raises $3,000, the MAF matches this amount. The students then decide where they want the money to go, approach the organization they feel the most passionate about, and ask if there is a project they can help with.
Evelyn states, “As a 17 year old, I don’t have much political power, but in our school YIP gives me the power to look into arising issues, help with both money and spreading awareness, and most important make an impact on our community.”
Morden Area Foundation Board member Rob Dudgeon was pleased to accept a $73,000 cheque from Louis Tanguay and Megan Dias of the 2014 Morden Stanley Winkler Manitoba Games Host Society. This donation represented half of the surplus funds generated by the hosting of the surplus funds generated by the hosting of the Games last winter; an equal amount has been donated to the Winkler Community Foundation. These funds will be endowed by the foundations, and the earnings will be distributed to charitable organizations working to support competitive sport in their respective towns and areas.