In the process of winding down operations in December 2023, the Thomas Sill Foundation disbursed its financial assets by establishing endowment funds among community foundations across the province.

As a result, the Winkler Community Foundation (WCF) received a generous donation of just over $1.2 million in unrestricted community funds.

"We are so grateful for the confidence the Thomas Hill Foundation has put on us, and the opportunity for us to manage these funds and distribute the annual granting," said Myra Peters, WCF executive director. "It's really exciting for our community."

Each year, the need for charitable funding far exceeds the grant dollars available. The donation essentially doubles WCF's community grants, said Peters. 

"The Winkler Community Foundation board of directors is currently reviewing our granting processes, and looking at how this can impact our granting. We have till 2025 before the first grants will be released. We are looking at potentially some larger grants, in addition to the smaller grants that we give out."

The Thomas Sill foundation has helped shape who the WCF is today. 

After incorporating in 1988, WCF became active in 1994 when the Thomas Sill Foundation challenged local business people with a matching grant proposal, whereby the foundation would raise $100,000 over four years and the Thomas Sill Foundation would match it. That goal was achieved. The first grants were released in 1996, totaling $8,500, impacting eight charitable organizations. Since then, over $2.5 million has been disbursed back into the community,

"The Thomas Sill fund will have a significant impact on our community grant program," said Corey Hildebrand, WCF Chairperson. "It is an honour to have the Thomas Sill Foundation board of directors choose us."

Peters talks about the considerable growth that WCF has seen over the past several years.

"With the Gordon Wiebe Scholarship Fund, and then some of the smaller funds that have been created over the years, we have a few new ones that are also in the works, well over $6 million. I when I started here, 15 years ago, it was just at $700,000. It's exciting to see how it impacts our community, knowing it's not a one-time impact, but each year we can give back to the community through granting."

Peters describes it as a gift that keeps on giving.

"That is what I love about the work here at the foundation." 

The new fund will begin granting in 2025.

~With files from Pam Fedack~