The Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF) held their 8th annual National Philanthropy Day lunch at the Quality Hotel on November 15th to celebrate Abbotsford as Canada’s most giving community. The luncheon theme was Give where you Live. Philanthropy awards were given out in three categories: Youth, Business, and Volunteer of the year and there were a record number of nominations received in each category. Each winner received $500 to donate to the charity of their choice. ACF’s Community Grants Chair, Andrea Senft said, “the number of organizations and individuals in our community that believe in giving back is always humbling. We are very grateful for their efforts and the various ways that they help those less fortunate in Abbotsford.”

The first award category was the Alan and Vivian Trethewey Youth Philanthropy Award which was established to acknowledge Alan and Vivian for their leadership role in starting the Abbotsford Community Foundation in 1979. This year the award was presented to Aidan Schweinbenz by J.O. Trethewey and his wife, Marlene. J.O. is the brother of the late Alan Trethewey. Aidan graduated from Yale Secondary school in June of this year and is currently attending university in Ottawa. Aidan organized Rockin’ Abby Strong in 2018 which focused on bringing people together after some very trying times and events in Abbotsford. Local singers from each of the high schools and other Lower Mainland talent entertained about 400 people, both young and old. Approximately $10,000 was raised which went towards a well in Ethiopia, Constable John Davidson’s “Shine on Legacy” fund at the ACF, and the Western Institute of the Deaf.

In the category of Business Philanthropy, sponsored by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Board Vice President, Sara Lawson presented the award to MNP, LLP. David Turchen, Partner at MNP, accepted the award on their behalf. MNP supports many charities in Abbotsford including Canuck Place, Abbotsford Food Bank, BC Turkey and Egg Board, BC Young Farmers, BC Dairy Association, BC Cattlemen’s Association, Farm Management Canada, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Mainland Young Milk Producers, Pacific Agriculture Show, United Way and more!
The Volunteer of the Year award category was sponsored by Assante Wealth Management and was presented by Mark Driediger, Senior Financial Planner with Assante. The recipient chosen for 2018 was Nikolas Venema. Nik’s volunteerism with the University of the Fraser Valley dates to when he was a student at UFV in 2009. However, Nik’s most significant volunteer contributions have been made within the last six years through his work as an alumnus. In 2012, Nik joined the UFV Alumni Association Board of Directors as a volunteer director at large. Also in 2012, he became Vice-Chair and in 2015, became Chair of the Association. Nik was instrumental in introducing the organization’s first three-year strategic plan with a focus on mentorship, engagement and fundraising. In 2016, Nik spearheaded a fundraising campaign for the UFV Alumni Changing Lives Bursary Endowment called the Class Gift campaign. Because of Nik, the campaign was able to raise over $43,600 for students in need at UFV.
Next year the ACF will be celebrating 40 years of giving in the Abbotsford community. Since inception, over $10.5 million dollars has been granted to numerous charities and to students for scholarships and bursaries. At the lunch, the audience was shown a video featuring Vivian Trethewey who was a founding donor to the ACF. Vivian said in the video: “The Abbotsford Community Foundation is one of the best ways to give; it’s strong and it’s living, it’s alive and active!”

Keynote speaker, Ed Fast, MP for Abbotsford, gave an inspiring talk on the impact of philanthropy and he encouraged the audience to give and hire where you live as a key way to contribute to a healthy community.