Canada has always been a country that supports those who need a helping hand. It’s something the Vanderwell family benefited from and has never forgotten. Because of the First World War, our Great-grandparents left their birthplace – Holland in 1910, and ventured to North America, eventually homesteading in Alberta, where they became Canadian citizens and established Vanderwell.
Throughout our history, we have never forgotten those early beginnings. Bob Vanderwell, a man of faith and one of the founders of Vanderwell, always strongly believed and had a vision in the importance of giving back to the community and people where the company operates. He also supported worthwhile endeavours in other parts of the world.
Keeping with Bob’s vision the Vanderwell family established “The Vanderwell Family Foundation” on April 1, 2021 as a registered Canadian charity. The foundation has been active in supporting a number of organizations both “home and abroad.”
“The focus of our donations is on grassroots organizations and causes that make a real difference in the communities where they’re located,” says Theresa Ross, secretary of The Vanderwell Family Foundation. “We’re looking for groups that can show us they’re reaching the people affected and that our financial donation can positively change their life situations.”
Last year the foundation donated to the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre’s Christmas Hamper Project and Santa’s Anonymous campaign. The financial donation went towards 230 family food hampers on Christmas day, and 404 gifts and gift cards for children in Slave Lake and surrounding areas. Through another donation the foundation is supporting the First Baptist Church in Edmonton to help an immigrant family settle in Edmonton.
Often, donations have opened the door to longer term partnerships.
Several years ago, the foundation donated to the Slave Lake Hospital Auxiliary for its long-term care facility’s Therapeutic Garden. At the same time, the company directly donated lumber for the flowerbeds – and this year in July, residents who live there received a donation towards sunhats, sunglasses, sunscreen and blankets. (Theresa does point out that lumber donations are separate from the foundation and made on a case-by-case basis through the company.)
Also receiving ongoing monthly financial aid from the foundation is the Parkland Pregnancy Support Centre in Spruce Grove, an organization providing crisis pregnancy support resources to expectant women, new mothers and families with toddlers. In the 2021 Christmas season the Support Centre received an additional donation that provided 65 families with a Hampers4Hope gift.
Outside of Canada, The Vanderwell Family Foundation assists a school in the Dominican Republic, and part of its donation ensures 350 students receive a hot lunch every day. Through Blazing Faith Ministries Association, the foundation supports a feeding program, school and a medical clinic for impoverished communities in Malawi, Africa. In Guatemala, it provides funds for a medical and dental clinic.
Leading The Vanderwell Family Foundation is Ken Vanderwell, as President. Lesli Bar is a Director, and Theresa Ross is Secretary of the organization. Besides Ken, Lesli and Theresa, the foundation board consists of Dianne Vanderwell and Laura Ross.
The group meets in person once a year in January to determine which charities to support, and in between the board frequently communicates updates and new requests as they come in. Those interested in getting more information may contact The Vanderwell Family Foundation through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.