It wasn’t your ordinary grant distribution night in Virden. Last Saturday, the Virden Area Foundation (VAF) transformed their usual short-and-sweet ceremony into a gala affair called Uncorked.
The sold-out event included wine tasting, live music, and appetizers all served up in a decorated banquet hall at Tundra Oil and Gas Place where little black dresses and ties ruled the scene.
The VAF’s community relations officer Teresa Makarchuk says it was a couple of the directors’ spouses and their friends who came up with the idea for Uncorked as a fundraiser for the foundation.
Randi Renard was one of them. Her husband Alex is on the VAF board.
“It seemed crazy that the VAF was about to distribute all this grant money to local projects and nobody would be there to see that. So we thought it would be good to raise a bit of awareness about them. And the wine gala that was held a few years ago was very popular so we knew a lot of people missed it.”
The largest grant of the evening - $50,000 - went to Funshine Early Learning Centre for classroom furniture and equipment for their soon-to-be-open daycare in Virden (see complete list of grantees below.)
Jillian Irvine from the Funshine committee took the microphone to thank the foundation and gave the audience a progress report on a facility that’s been in the planning / fundraising stages for eight years.
“This is a very exciting time for Funshine as we’re on the brink of opening; construction is in the final stages… The director for Funshine 2 has been hired and résumés for educators are starting to come in.”
Irvine explained how essential the VAF has been to Funshine’s ability to add a second location and respond to the demand for more daycare spaces in the region.
“Because the Virden Area Foundation is so impactful, we were able to leverage their commitment (of funding) when applying to the Family Choices Building Fund…. I have no doubt that without the foundation supporting us in that grant application process, we would not have been successful in getting the capital funding to build our 66-space facility at a cost of $2.7 million dollars.”
Irvine also pointed out that the $50,000 grant was the second largest donation VAF has ever given. The largest grant in its history went to the Tundra recreation facility itself, where the Uncorked event was held.
Renard says it turned out better than she thought with all 220 tickets sold in advance. “We weren’t sure if we’d make any money at all, but we did. It was a fun night.” The organizing committee plans to give the proceeds to the foundation.
2019 Grant Recipients:
Funshine Early Learning Centre: $50,000 to purchase furniture and equipment for new facility (previously awarded)
Wallace District Fire Board: $15,000 towards new digital communication radios
Virden & District Health Auxiliary: $7,500 to convert Sherwood Home’s tub room to shower room
Oak Lake Care Centre: $5,000 for artificial turf and other upgrades to play area
Elkhorn Agricultural Society: $5,000 to upgrade fairground’s kitchen, build washrooms
Kenton Community Park: $5,000 to landscape park, pave paths, safe play structures
Virden Youth for Christ: $2,500 to renovate storage room and office for The Hangout
RM Pipestone Recreation: $2,500 to purchase wheelchair accessible mats for manmade lake
Mary Montgomery School: $2,000 for 23 ukuleles (already purchased) for music program