Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald photo-bombs MP Ed Fast during the Philanthropy Day luncheon held Nov. 15 at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Philanthropy Day luncheon honours youth, business and volunteer of the year

Event hosted by Abbotsford Community Foundation

The Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF) recently held its eighth annual National Philanthropy Day lunch to celebrate Abbotsford as Canada’s most giving community.

The theme for the luncheon, held at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre, 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.

“The number of organizations and individuals in our community that believe in giving back is always humbling,” said Andrea Senft, ACF community grants chair.

“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 the couple for their leadership role in starting the ACF in 1979.

This year the award was presented by J.O. and Marlene Trethewey to Aidan Schweinbenz, who graduated from Yale Secondary in June and is currently attending university in Ottawa.

Schweinbenz organized Rockin’ Abby Strong in 2018, which focused on bringing people together after some very trying times and events in Abbotsford.

RELATED: Rockin’ Abby Strong raises funds for three charities

RELATED: 2017 Philanthropy Day award recipients

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, Const. 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 vice-president Sara Lawson presented the award to MNP LLP, an accounting and business advisory firm.

Accepting the award on the company’s behalf was David Turchen, a partner at MNP.

MNP supports many charities in Abbotsford, including Canuck Place, the Abbotsford Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the United Way, BC Young Farmers and more.

The Volunteer of the Year award category was sponsored by Assante Wealth Management and was presented by Mark Driediger, senior financial planner, to Nikolas Venema.

His volunteerism with the University of the Fraser Valley dates to when he was a student at UFV in 2009.

However, Venema’s most significant volunteer contributions have been made within the last six years through his work as an alumnus.

In 2012, he joined the UFV Alumni Association board of directors as a volunteer director at large and became vice-chair later that year. In 2015, he became chair of the association.

Venema was instrumental in introducing the organization’s first three-year strategic plan with a focus on mentorship, engagement and fundraising.

In 2016, he spearheaded a fundraising campaign for the UFV Alumni Changing Lives Bursary Endowment called the Class Gift campaign, which raised almost $44,000 for students in need at UFV.

Keynote speaker for the Philanthropy Day lunch was Abbotsford MP Ed Fast, who encouraged the audience to give and hire where they live as a key way to contribute to a healthy community.

Next year the ACF celebrates 40 years. Since its inception, more than $10.5 million has been granted to numerous charities and to students for scholarships and bursaries.

Visit abbotsfordcf.org or contact executive director Wendy Neufeld at 604-850-3755 for more information.

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Nikolas Venema (left) accepts the Volunteer of the Year award from Mark Driediger during the Philanthropy Day luncheon in Abbotsford on Nov. 15. (Submitted photo)

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