By Marc Zienkiewicz

The Lac du Bonnet Charitable Foundation will hold its first annual general meeting next month — the initial step to giving out its first grant money to worthy community causes.

“We’re on the right track. We’re very happy with what we’ve accomplished,” foundation president Cliff Zarecki said.

The foundation has invested its money — the fund sits at $75,000 at present — with the Winnipeg Foundation. Doing so insures the foundation’s funds continue to grow even with economic instability, and as a bonus the Winnipeg Foundation gave $10,000 as a “welcome aboard” gift.

Around $900 will be available for granting in 2010. Next year, Zarecki said that amount will rise to more than $2,000.

“It’s great to finally be able to accomplish our purpose, which is to facilitate community philanthropy,” he said.

The original idea for the foundation came from a local resident, Dr. Bob Rutherford, who in his later years spoke of the need for creating a charitable foundation in the Lac du Bonnet area. He passed away before his dream became a reality.

His son Mauri, a lawyer, promised his father that he would assist to get a community foundation established. Mauri now sits on the foundation board as chairman.

Still, it would be several more years until the foundation was actually formed. In 2006, RM of Lac du Bonnet councillor Gus Wruck contacted Zarecki to discuss trying once again to get a foundation established in Lac du Bonnet. Zarecki has been very active with the area Lions Club and numerous other community causes. The foundation finally achieved charitable status and became a reality in 2008.

Numerous community organizations and individuals have donated to the foundation, including a massive $25,000 donation from the Lac du Bonnet Wildlife Association and a $10,000 contribution from the Lions.

Most recently, the staff of Lac du Bonnet’s Horizon Insurance have held a Casual Friday each week, with employees each paying $2 for the privilege of coming to work in casual clothing. They will be donating the money raised to the foundation.

“It’s efforts like this that help ensure the foundation will be a success,” foundation vice president Gus Wruck said.

Home Hardware owner Al Richter also recently became the foundation’s first corporate donor, donating $2,000 to cover the organization’s administration costs.

The upcoming annual general meeting will include information on the foundation itself, the kinds of projects it will fund, how to apply for grants from the foundation, as well as an election of officers.

The meeting, to be held at the Lac du Bonnet Pioneer Club, will take the form of a potluck dinner, and anyone attending is asked to bring a dish.

The meeting takes place March 24 at 5:30 p.m.