One of the biggest differences between credit unions and other financial institutions is our focus on supporting the communities we operate in. We make the community a priority, with everything from sponsorships for local groups and sports teams, to scholarship programs helping high school and college students, to charitable donations to the organizations that matter to our members.
Here is just one example of how credit unions are focused on giving back: Helping Hands Grants from Vision Credit Union.
Vision Credit Union is a community credit union that serves more than 36,000 members across Alberta. Vision is Alberta’s third-largest credit union with a specialized focus on rural communities and the families that live there, small agri-businesses and the unique needs of farmers and ranchers.
Inspired by the legacy community support program offered by Encompass Credit Union before Encompass and Vision merged, in 2022 it was recognized that there was a need to help the local schools, charities and community organizations that make a difference in the locations it operates in. Larger capital projects can fall outside of the requirements and funding amounts of most community charity programs but were still in need of funds.
So, Vision came up with the idea to offer Helping Hand Grants to qualifying organizations for capital projects that improve the well-being of all members of the communities that Vision operates in. The program, which offers up to $10,000 in funding to qualifying organizations, has had huge interest in its first year with more than 100 applications.
And it was just announced at Vision’s Annual General Meeting that they will be providing almost $190,000 to support 33 different groups across Alberta this year with capital projects that are outside their operational funding.
“We were pleased by the interest in this program and impressed by the amazing work being done to further quality of life in our rural Alberta communities,” said Steve Friend, CEO of Vision Credit Union. “We’re honoured to play a part in supporting these efforts.”
The grant committee, made up of Visions’ CEO and Board members, adjudicated the applications for 2023 and selected the recipients based on the project’s benefit to people and the community.
Winners are from organizations that serve areas large and small across Alberta’s rural communities, such as agricultural societies and 4-H clubs, childcare centres, sports groups and clubs, libraries and public spaces, and community centres and events .
For a full list of 2023 recipients, visit the Vision Credit Union website here, on read on for some examples of how Helpings Hands Grants are providing a helping hand below!
Spirit’s Respite Ranch
Spirit’s Respite Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and autism.
The Ranch offers programs such as horseback riding and animal therapy sessions to community members and families in need of support. The farm offers chickens, pigs, horses, ponies, goats and more that interact with visitors in a safe and intimate environment. The animals can help provide multiple positive health results from calming agitation, helping someone manage anxiety or encouraging interaction and communication.
Spirit Respite Ranch will use the Grant funds to install new overhead fans in the existing arena to help lower the utility bills and purchase new LED lights to replace existing fluorescent lights.
Pincher Creek and District Community Food Centre
The Pincher Creek and District Community Food Centre is a program that provides emergency hampers and food to those in need who live in the Town of Pincher Creek or surrounding area.
Led by a group of volunteers, this organization is focused on increasing access to healthy food for all who need it, with a simple sign-up process and on-call delivery program.
The Centre aims to increase food security in the face of rising costs and provide food options for any who need it. Supported entirely by donations, the Centre aims to not only collect food but also equipment such as freezers and fridges and materials for the community garden to help keep food fresh, sustainable and accessible.
The Pincher Creek Community Food Centre will use Grant funds to replace the furnace and install a new air conditioning system in their food storage and workspace area.
Wetaskiwin Theatre Society
Located in the Manluk Theatre in Wetaskiwin’s historic first electric plant building, the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society is a not-for-profit community-supported theatre group.
The Society hosts performances from the local theatre troupe who put on three plays per season, as well as touring musicians, musical productions, dance recitals and a monthly open mic night. The goal of the Society is to offer many ways for community members to come together and engage with the arts and to support a vibrant group of local artists and performers who call the area home.
The theatre space is also rented to local groups who host meetings and events onsite and celebrate the history of the space. The Wetaskiwin Theatre group will use the Grant funds to expand their sound booth to accommodate new equipment and upgrade their theatre lighting.