Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has contributed $1.5 million to 86 community projects across Canada, and three Westman communities are benefiting through FCC's AgriSpirit Fund.
Boissevain Community Centre has received $10,000 to upgrade their front entrance, to make it wheelchair accessible. Rivers received $8,000 to purchase a new commercial hot water tank for their Riverdale Community Centre. And the Neepawa Community Ministries Centre-Salvation Army received $25,000 to expand and upgrade their food bank and community kitchen with new refrigeration units and kitchen equipment.
Boissevain Community Centre President, Gary Zeiler, says they were overjoyed when he got the call from the FCC office in Sasktachewan to announce their awarding of the grant. "It's great," he says. "The front door entrance will be moved from the side to the front, install a ramp, and make it wheelchair accessible with the automatic door opening button.
"The actual project was $10,500 and they gave us $10,000," notes Zeiler, "so we'll make up the extra. They've already sent us the money and we're going to do it in the spring."
Zeiler says the community centre is always busy with folks visiting, either over a game of pool or a game of cards or sharing a meal together, or most recently visiting the thrift shop downstairs. Snazzy Seconds moved to the lower level of the community centre just last month to allow more room for their many donations and seasonal storage.
"These all help to pay the bills," he says. "We're trying to get more people out to help support the Community Centre, and the more traffic that comes to see Snazzy Seconds, the more people come to see us. So, we try and put events together. When they're doing something then we try to do something at the same time, same day. So, this is working well, a win-win!"
Zeiler adds lunch is available at the centre every third Thursday of each month, and an evening meal is available about once a month, again all to raise more funds to add to their operating budget.
The FCC Agri Spirit Fund is just one of 6 grants Zeiler has applied for on behalf of the Boissevain Community Center. "The sign that's out front we got from a grant and the tv and computer inside the community centre came from the same grant, and we've applied for a couple of more grants for tables and carpet for the landing. So hopefully we've got a couple of more to come yet!"
This year, the FCC AgriSpirit Fund awarded between $5,000 and $25,000 to various community improvement initiatives that enrich the lives of residents in cities, towns or Indigenous communities with fewer than 150,000 people. Over the past 20 years, the FCC AgriSpirit Fund has supported 1,615 projects, an investment of $21 million.
The next application period opens in the spring of 2024. Registered charities, non-profit groups, municipalities and First Nations, Métis or Inuit governments/communities interested in funding can visit www.fccagrispiritfund.ca for eligibility requirements, to apply online and view past projects.
“It’s amazing to realize the range of projects and organizations the FCC AgriSpirit Fund has been able to support over the last 20 years and the impact it has created,” said Shannon Weatherall, FCC senior vice-president of Prairie operations. “We continue that legacy through great investments in our communities today.”
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