Valley Life Recreation (VLR) began the 2021 year with a variety of aggressive fundraising goals, not least of which, was the goal of raising multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park. Some of the initiatives were successful and others less so. Overall though, 2021 was an extremely successful year of fundraising for VLR.
The year began with early contributions from both the Town of Minnedosa ($15,000), the R.M. of Minto-Odanah ($15,000) and the Heritage Co-op Community Fund ($6,000). These early financial contributions toward the Squirrel Hills Trail Park, prior to it being publicly announced, facilitated early design development and kick started VLR’s fundraising campaign in a big way.
The first quarter of 2021 saw the planning and launch of VLR’s first ever calendar. The production of this calendar, featuring locally contributed images of the Minnedosa region, raised approximately $8,000 in profit for the organization.
The launch of an online-based recurring 50/50 cash draw took place at the end of May. The 50/50 was initially planned for run for 12 months, but was discontinued in November 2021 after not meeting fundraising expectations, having raised approximately $2,200.
In July of 2021 the conceptual plans for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park, budgeted at $658,000, were formally unveiled to the public and with them, a formal sponsorship program was launched in support of the financial needs of the project. Sponsorships came in throughout the year along with many personal contributions. As a representation of the exceptional support by the local community, by end of year 2021, 21 local businesses and individuals had contributed $1,000 each, in addition to the numerous other donations received in amounts ranging from less than $100 to well over $10,000.
Some of the largest contributions include Sunrise Credit Union with a $50,000 sponsorship of the pavilion to be built at the trailhead for the new park. In addition, $22,500 was received from each the Minnedosa District Community Foundation and the Brandon Area Community Foundation. The Thomas Sill Foundation in Winnipeg committed $20,000 and Cenovus Energy and Nutrien Ag Solutions also contributed $10,000 each.
August brought about Ride Like Ole, a fundraising memorial ride dedicated to Ole Heie and naming an element of the future trail park for him. What started out with a goal of raising $17,200 ended up attracting the attention of over 300 donors contributing a total of approximately $30,000 to the Squirrel Hills Trail Park in Ole’s name.
Additional fundraisers were held in conjunction with Splish Splash Water Park, Dari Isle, Grey Ridge Coffee Co., the Minnedosa Rotary Club, RD’s on Main, Inspire Studio and more.
In October 2021, VLR launched their second calendar for the 2022 calendar year. This calendar was again very successful with nearly 300 calendars sold.
Many grant applications were written throughout the year for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park including submissions made to Building Sustainable Communities, FCC Agrispirit Fund, Community Foundations of Canada, Canada Community Revitalization Fund, Minnedosa District Community Foundation, Nutrien In & About our Communities, Brandon Area Community Foundation, Thomas Sill Foundation and the Richardson Foundation. Funding decisions are still pending for some of these applications, but by the end of 2021, a total of $75,000 had been granted through these applications.
Overall, Valley Life Recreation ended 2021 with approximately $260,000 in funds raised and has a confident roadmap looking forward toward 2022 to acquire the remaining funding necessary for the Squirrel Hills Trail Park.
Dave Ternier; Board Chair
Carrie McCallum; Fundraising Chair
This report was originally prepared for and shared at the VLR Annual General Meeting on February 24, 2022. Read the Executive Committee Report for 2021 here.