Learn more about the impact charitable giving has in Southwestern Alberta


Giving Together

Published in March annually, Giving Together showcases our work in the community by listing all grants awarded each year and featuring impact stories about some of the projects supported by our many grants programs.

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Published in the spring and winter annually, our newsletters are a great way to stay up-to-date on the work of the Community Foundation.

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2023 Fall Grant Recipients

“Charity begins at home, and Southwestern Alberta is our home”

– Eric Hillman, Community Foundation Donor

How the Community Foundation Helps

Click the links below to learn more about how the Community Foundation helps build a vibrant and inclusive community.

Community Connections

Cultural Life


Healthy Communities

Lifelong Learning

Living Standards

Impact Stories

Donors create a legacy by establishing a fund that supports the community, now and forever.

John and Irene Frouws

John and Irene Frouws left a significant portion of their estate to the Community Foundation with the intent for their gift to support areas of most pressing need, now and forever.

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Community Priorities Fund enables John and Irene Frouws to support Southwestern Alberta forever

Both John and Irene Frouws experienced poverty during the Great Depression, as well as a prolonged separation from each other during WWII. Although he was offered an excellent position in Europe following the war, John couldn’t wait to return to Southwestern Alberta and his beloved Irene.

John and Irene were optimists through adversity, and shared a belief in building family and community through hard work. While raising two children and living modestly, they still found time to give back. John and Irene expressed their love for their community through volunteer work and contributions to local organizations and charities.

Not only did they care about their friends and neighbours, they also loved and respected the land. Over their years together, John and Irene enjoyed many coulee climbs, searching for saskatoon berries and enjoying the gift of nature. They were avid gardeners, winning Canada’s Best Veterans’ Vegetable and Flower Garden trophy for five consecutive years.

John and Irene left a significant portion of their estate to the Community Foundation, directing their gift to the Community Priorities Fund, where it helps support programming and initiatives for dozens of charities throughout Southwestern Alberta every year.

Elmer and Ida Wiens

The Elmer and Ida Wiens Fund is a Field of Interest Fund that supports charities working to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.

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The Ida Wiens Story: A legacy of support for children with disabilities and their families

Anyone who knew the late Ida Wiens of Coaldale will tell you she was a true friend, a lover of travel and a valued community member. Wiens also left a legacy to her community that will live forever through the Community Foundation.

Although Wiens grew up in Saskatchewan, where she attended teachers’ college, she and husband Elmer called Coaldale home from 1948 on. She retired in 1980, ending her teaching career of more than 32 years. According to her dear friend Jennie Emery, retirement didn’t slow Ida down one bit. “Ida belonged to the Coaldale Arts and Crafts group, enjoyed china painting, and took regular long walks,” says Emery. “She also loved to travel, taking many trips, her favourite being a five-month trip around the world where she and Elmer visited every continent.”

Wiens was also a loving mother to her son, who died in his youth in 1978. Knowing firsthand the joys and challenges her own son experienced due to his developmental disability, Wiens directed the Elmer and Ida Wiens Fund at the Community Foundation to support charities that provide enhanced opportunities for other children with disabilities.

The Community Foundation is proud to facilitate the positive impact that Mr. and Mrs. Wiens’ contribution has on the charities working to ensure those with developmental disabilities live meaningful, successful lives in a community that welcomes their contribution and potential.

Jean B. Willoughby

The Jean B. Willoughby Fund is a Donor Designated Fund that supports the YWCA Women’s Leadership program with an annual grant.

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A lasting tribute for Jean

While reflecting on key role models in her life, Barb Cavers sees her mother, Jean Willoughby, as the most prominent. “I have come to appreciate that she had a much greater influence on me than I had realized,” she says.

Barb fondly remembers her mother as a patient and strongly committed person. She spent years sewing 2,500 cotton yo-yos for a beautiful quilt that is now a family heirloom. That determination and commitment is something that translated into many aspects of Jean’s life. Barb credits her mother for instilling within her similar strong ideals. “So many of my values are those that I learned from her,” she recalls. “Things like the importance of family, unconditional support of your children, always being a learner, community service, generosity, creativity and commitment.”

Jean provided a wonderful example of community service for her family, and was always involved in volunteer work, even into her 80s. She gave many years of service to the YWCA and Barb followed in her footsteps. They were the first mother-daughter team on the YWCA Board of Directors.

After Jean passed away in 2009, Barb began to search for a way to honour her memory. “I wanted to pay tribute to my mother and the many ways that she contributed to her community.” Barb felt that naming a fund at the Community Foundation in honour of her mother was the perfect way to keep her memory alive. The Jean B. Willoughby Fund supports the YWCA Women’s Leadership Fund. This fund remains open for any future donors to participate in as contributors.

“I chose the Community Foundation primarily because of the ability to make the gift last, through investing in an endowment fund,” explains Barb. “I like the idea that my mother will be remembered in the community for generations.”

Alistair McLennan “Mac” Harvey

Mac Harvey, avid outdoorsman and adventurer, bequeathed a portion of his estate to the Community Foundation upon his passing in 2014.

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For Mac Harvey, life was an adventure. An avid outdoorsman and world traveler, he maintained an active lifestyle and travelled extensively into his 70s. His travels took him through Europe, the northern U.S.A., Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia, South America, Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, and across Canada.

Mac’s love of adventure included skiing, sailing, trekking, cycling, and mountaineering. He was a member of the Chinook Outdoor Club, where he met Geoff Bradshaw on a hiking trip to Chief Mountain. The two discovered they’d attended the same grammar school in northern England and became fast friends.

“Mac was always more interested in what you had done and where you had been,” remembers Bradshaw. “It was only through these conversations that you would find out all of these amazing things about him.”

In his professional life, Mac specialized in Animal Science and Agricultural Economics. He took an early retirement from his position as Regional Economist for Alberta Agriculture to “see how the 90% of the less fortunate of the world manage to survive.” This was when he discovered a passion for giving back.

He began accepting occasional overseas consulting jobs and short term project work with CESO (Canadian Executive Service Organization). He described this work as fulfilling and that it “aroused a new respect for others, a wider outlook on life and an appreciation for the blessings of good health.”

He also continued to travel for pleasure, making new friends along the way. In a holiday letter to friends, he recounted his adventures and dubbed it “yet another year of a charmed life.”

“The journey, fellow travellers, chance encounters, fortuitous events and new friends en route, all reward more than the final destination,” he wrote.

Sadly, after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2008, Mac’s world changed. He was no longer able to safely go outside of his residence, let alone travel the world and maintain his level of activity. Bradshaw continued to visit Mac on a regular basis, until his passing in February 2014.

Mac left a gift through life insurance to the Community Foundation—a generous act of lasting support for the causes about which he felt passionate. His gift became part of the Community Priorities Fund, supporting the Community Foundation’s largest, unrestricted, granting program. Through his generosity, Mac’s passion for his community will live on forever.

Dolores Brown

Dolores Brown’s Field of Interest Fund leaves a legacy of support for youth in sport.

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Dolores Brown is remembered fondly by her family and friends as someone with an active mind and body. “She enjoyed life and was a truly lovely person,” recalls her friend and business associate Mary Rose Mrazek. A long-time resident of Lethbridge, Dolores raised five children, worked fulltime as a supervisor at the hospital prior to retirement, and returned to the University of Lethbridge at the age of 56 to earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree. “That was something she wanted to do for herself, for her own personal satisfaction and growth,” said Mary Rose.

Throughout her life, Dolores was physically active, spending her spare time walking, cycling, golfing, and downhill skiing. She played the piano for her own enjoyment and taught herself French. “Dolores really valued education and recognized its importance,” says Mary Rose. “Dolores was also very involved in the community, taking delight in the Lethbridge Twinning Society and Friendship Force, an international organization that chooses individuals to travel as ambassadors for their country. “She thoroughly enjoyed trips to interesting places, including Chile, Australia, and many destinations in Europe, among others,” says Mary Rose.

Dolores bequeathed a portion of her estate to the Community Foundation, with an intention to support physical activity for youth. The annual income from the Dolores Brown Athletic Fund helps children to participate in skating, skiing, swimming, or any other number of individual sport activities. The fund enables children to learn and grow, increase their self-esteem, and enjoy fun and healthy activities as they engage in individual sports.

As Mrazek says, “I think she would be very happy knowing that her donation was put to such good use year after year.”

Mirella and Maria Zappone

The Mirella and Maria Zappone Fund for Social Justice is a Memorial Fund that sustains the legacy of two local teachers with an annual scholarship.

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Many of the Community Foundation’s endowment funds are established to memorialize the life of a loved one. It’s a way of keeping thoughts of these special people in our hearts and in our minds, and sharing their legacy with others. It was from this perspective that Community Foundation donor Giuseppe Zappone established the Mirella Zappone Fund for Social Justice, after his youngest daughter’s sudden death in 2004. Her passion for fighting inequality became a way for her family—her parents, siblings and their spouses, and her four nephews—to coax a semblance of positivity from their grief.

Initially, the fund lent support to students from Mirella’s former high school who were participating in an annual pilgrimage to Mexico. “My sister had worked in Mexico for two years, so that was what the money was earmarked for,” said Frank Zappone, Mirella’s brother. “She had spent some time working in a library for the disadvantaged, so my dad wanted it to go to that sort of cause, for those in Mexico that didn’t have access to education.” Giuseppe himself passed away just over a year after Mirella, and the fund that he started to champion causes that embodied Mirella’s spirit would now reflect his, as well. “We used the fund also when my dad passed away rather than accepting flowers or gifts,” says Zappone, so that if people wanted to they could donate.”

The family dealt with tragedy once more in May of 2018, when another member of the Zappone family—Maria—passed away after a brief battle with cancer. “We decided that since they both had causes they were fighting for and passionate about—my one sister was more politically motivated, my other sister was a teacher and more passionate about student oriented causes—we felt that adding [Maria] to the fund would keep both of their names in our memory.” says Zappone. A teacher at St. Francis Junior High School in Lethbridge until her passing, Maria’s belief in social equality made her an impassioned supporter of her students.

While staying true to its original intentions, the fund has grown and evolved as circumstances have necessitated. When the high school pilgrimage to Mexico was discontinued, the family transferred the scholarship to the Lethbridge College, where it currently supports students interested in social justice who have themselves overcome some sort of obstacle. A generous bequest from Maria, combined with the many memorial donations made by friends, colleagues, and former students, will allow the annual scholarship to double in value. “The money is directed to those who are in need, and those who have a specific cause that they are fighting for,” says Zappone. Social justice is huge, not in just what goes on in our little world, but across the entire world. People who are exposed to that and fight for what they think is right is very important. And to tie that to both my sisters’ support for that idea is great.”

The Mirella and Maria Zappone Fund for Social Justice, though it has its roots in tragic events, demonstrates the resiliency that can be found in even the toughest of circumstances. This fund—and other memorial endowments like it—sustains a legacy that touches lives, just as Mirella and Maria once did. “I feel honoured that this scholarship is going towards someone who really needs it, in remembrance of my two sisters,” says Zappone. “It is great for me to see that their livelihoods live on, what they stood for lives on, and that somebody is getting something good out it.” While both of their lives were too short, Mirella and Maria’s legacies will live forever through their memorial endowment fund at the Community Foundation.

W.C. Shirley Memorial Fund

This endowment fund commemorates the life of Regimental Sergeant Major William C. Shirley and provides annual support for the Lethbridge Military Museum.

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The Shirley girls and their families remember Regimental Sergeant Major William C. Shirley as a humble, hardworking man, a veteran of World War II who earned the respect and admiration of his fellow soldiers. A lifelong resident of Lethbridge, Sergeant Major Shirley passed away in 1974, but his memory lives on through his family, and through others who knew and loved him. His memory also lives on through the memorial fund at the Community Foundation that bears his name.

Shirley signed up for Canada’s Non-Permanent Active Militia in 1925, becoming a member of the 20th Field Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) stationed in Lethbridge. By the late 1930s, he had attained the rank of Sergeant Major, and in September of 1939, days before Canada declared war on Germany, he volunteered for active service. As a member—and later Regimental Sergeant—of the 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, RCA, Shirley was deployed to England, France, and Germany. In recognition of his service, he was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. After returning to Lethbridge following the war, Shirley worked briefly as a corrections officer at the jail before taking a position managing the bottle depot at Sick’s Breweries. He and his wife Vera raised three daughters: Jane, Linda, and Diane.

Linda recalls that her father gained the friendship and respect of many among Lethbridge’s enlisted and commissioned. “The stories I’ve heard about my dad from anyone who served with him—they could not speak more highly,” she says. Growing up, her home was often a hub for gatherings of her father’s military buddies. “A lot of the guys would meet at our house for parties on Remembrance Day and other times during the year. There was always laughing and singing,” says Linda. “They were all such good friends.”

Upon his death, many of Shirley’s friends and fellow veterans took up a collection in his honour, using the funds to support causes related to the military. An early beneficiary of the group’s generosity came through the establishment of a scholarship bearing Shirley’s name, for members of Lethbridge’s contingent of youth cadets. The sum grew through additional gifts in the decades that followed, making possible a great deal of charitable activity that was managed by members of the group themselves. In 1997, at the behest of the remaining veterans associated with the memorial, Linda became involved and transferred the balance of the donations to the Community Foundation, establishing the W.C. Shirley Memorial Endowment Fund.

The memorial fund enables the family to remember their father in a way that maintains the spirit of his life and serves the community. Service, especially in the military, is a family value: Shirley served alongside two brothers-in-law during World War II; his wife, Vera, was a sergeant in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps; and Linda devoted a significant part of her career to a position at the savings union at the Legion in Lethbridge. As a testament to their parents’ service, both mother and father are immortalized within the Military Museum’s Mural of Remembrance, a public symbol of the family’s commitment to service.

Even now, decades later, Linda is humbled by the gesture her father’s fellow soldiers made in acknowledgement of that commitment. “We just thought it was amazing, the love and support that we received from so many people back then. They decided to set up this fund so that my dad’s legacy would live on,” she recalls. Her father wasn’t around to see the good his legacy would do—although, more importantly, he lived it. “We were all taught to be there for each other and volunteer,” says Linda. “If you give with an open heart, then you’ve earned your own reward.”

More than 40 years after Shirley’s death, the memorial fund continues to serve as a thoughtful reminder of the causes he fought for and the sacrifices he made. “Anybody who would remember my dad now is gone. He lives in the hearts of our family,” says Linda. As a Donor-Designated Endowment, the fund generates investment income that provides an annual grant to the Lethbridge Military Museum, supporting the organization’s mission to preserve and share Lethbridge’s military history. The W.C. Shirley Memorial Endowment Fund gratefully accept donations from anyone who wishes to contribute.

The Shirley girls and their families honour and remember their father in their own ways. A veteran of World War II, Regimental Sergeant Major Shirley is deserving of our gratitude for his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. It is important that we remember him, Sergeant Vera Shirley, and all members of our armed services, past and present, and to understand that their legacy is a nation that is strong and free. The Community Foundation is honoured to help support that legacy through the W.C. Shirley Memorial Endowment Fund.

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