As strong as their citizens

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadow Community Foundations looking for strong years in 2015 and beyond.

The Maple Ridge Community Foundation is looking to expand it's community chest initiative in 2015

A community is only as strong as the people willing to give back.

In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, the community is strong, thanks to its countless volunteers, said Michael Hayes, president of the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation.

Hayes, along with Maple Ridge Community Foundation president Robert Prince, is busy preparing for another year of making the region a more vibrant place to live. And to do that, they know they need the help of the countless volunteers who donate their time to making Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge stronger.

“Pitt Meadows is so fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers who are the glue that holds a community together,” said Hayes.

Even helping out with the smallest of tasks can make a difference to those in need.

“It can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help with. Dedicating your time as a volunteer can help make new friends, expand your network, boost your skills, and even advance your career.”

Prince, like Hayes, knows the work of the community foundation is reliant on the dedication of its volunteers. As both groups start to fill their 2015 calendar, first on their agenda is preparing for their citizen of the year.

“Citizen of the year event is always an important event for us because it’s our way of recognizing the volunteers in the community, notes Prince. “We may pick one person, put that person reflects on everyone who volunteers in our community. I hope people recognize we are trying to honour all volunteers by doing that.”

Last year, Maple Ridge honoured Bob Shantz, one of the original founders of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation and long-time supporter of the annual Rotary Duck Race.

In Pitt Meadows, it was Eric Muller, whose resume includes organizing athletic and non-athletic events to raise money for families who struggle financially because of childhood cancer.

Both are examples of the people the community foundation needs in order to thrive.

Last year, the MRCF handed out more than $14,000 in grants through its legacy fund, and helped families in need with its Community Chest program, a joint project with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Community Network.

Prince said the foundation is looking at expanding its charitable efforts by hiring a business development coordinator. He said the new role will help the foundation take its fundraising efforts, like its annual June golf tournament, to a new level.

Hayes says the PMCF will continue its tradition of providing two student bursaries each year, as well as grants directed for seniors and various community groups in the health, recreation, sports, arts and culture, education and community development sectors.

“What our ultimate goal is to have everybody in this community be able to participate in the community foundation because, at the end of the day, the money we raise goes back into helping people in this community,” said Prince.

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