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$50,000 to Ontario Volunteer Firefighters

I am very excited to finally reveal the winners of my first Jenny’s Heroes 🇨🇦 CANADA grants. It was supposed to be one grant of $25,000 but we got so many more applications than expected, that I doubled the amount to $50,000 this time. The extra $25,000 allowed us to spread the aid to several smaller fire departments as well. The applications were carefully reviewed by a qualified panel in Canada and by me as well, and each winner is listed below when you scroll down. Feel free to send them your congratulations and messages of support through the Comments link. Here we go!

Nolalu Emergency Services Team

Nolalu Emergency Services Team
Nolalu, Ontario

Their Grant: $25,000
To Purchase: 4X4 Quad Cab Pickup Truck

“Our current vehicle has left our responders stranded due to mechanical failure more than once,” said volunteer Fire Chief Sarah Shoemaker. “It is being held together through band-aid solutions and duct tape.”

The only hospital is 60k away and the ambulance – 25k away and with snow on the ground almost half the year, it’s a challenging job.

For Nolalu’s 18 volunteer fire fighters, this truck will serve as a multi-purpose first response and/or command vehicle to protect the more than 500 square kilometers of land under their care. That includes 1,200 full time residents and an additional 2,000 seasonal vacationers using several RV “resorts” along the shore of Whitefish Lake.

Established in 1979, the department operated for years on donations, out of school busses and pickup trucks. The team has grown and evolved into a well-trained, critical element of the community who respond to fires, medical emergencies, rescue, and serious highway accidents.

I called Chief Sarah Shoemaker to surprise her with the good news and I could hear someone cheering in the background. Sarah was really excited. “Are you kidding me?” she said. “This is amazing!” She had a training officer with her and said he was so excited he was “about to have a heart attack.” Sarah used to watch my show when she was little – so one of my loyal viewers wound up becoming a fire chief. How about that?

Sarah is married with 3 children ages 14, 11, and 5. She went on to tell me that she was speaking to another fire chief in the area who said he heard about the grant opportunity but when he heard that she was applying, he didn’t bother because he knew how much they needed this vehicle. Congratulations, Sarah. I am happy to help.

Pellatt United Fire Fighters (PUFF)

Pellatt United Fire Fighters (PUFF)
Keewatin, Ontario

Their Grant: $9,000
To Purchase: A High capacity portable water pump

Pictured above is a presentation of the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal to Fire Chief Barry Bennett (left) in recognition of his 30+ years of service to the Pellatt United Fire Fighters.

PUFF is a rural fire department with no access to fire hydrants, which explains the need for portable water pumps. Their 17 volunteers provide fire and emergency medical first response services to 2,000 year-round residents but that number doubles when vacationers arrive to enjoy the abundance of lakes and forests.

The largest volume of calls is for brush fires and many of the homes are difficult to access. Water needs to be transported by tanker from the nearest available lake, river or pond. A new water pump would reduce the turnaround time for tankers by more than half.

When an alarm sounds, it’s often women who respond to man the radios, act as babysitters, and provide food and coffee for the crew.

Funds are always needed and the team raises money through pancake breakfasts, barbeques, bingo, raffles, bass tournaments, and even lottery calendar sales with pictures of the local firefighters in action.

“Through all of this we have become a much closer knit community,” they wrote. “Prior to the formation of the fire teams, people tended to stay in their own little area and didn’t know or socialize with other people. The fire halls changed all that. They have become a focal point and many friendships have been formed.”

I called board chairman, Nick Vander Zande with the good news. He said, “Wow, this is super to hear. It will go a long way.” He said they respond to a lot of wild fires over the 200 square miles under their care. Congratulations to the whole team at PUFF!

Laurentian Hills Fire Department

Laurentian Hills Fire Department
Deep River, Ontario

Their Grant: $7,500
To Purchase: New Safety Helmets

The town of Laurentian Hills is located in the heartland of Ontario’s recreation system, situated in the beautiful Valley of the Ottawa River bordered by the Laurentian Mountains and Algonquin Provincial Park.

The amalgamation of several townships created the need for 2 fire halls in this department. The volunteers are the backbone of the department and having proper equipment ensures that these volunteers are safe.

Although the chief requested other equipment along with new helmets, he also kindly stated, “We would be grateful to only receive the helmets in order to share the funds with other communities.”

We welcomed the idea of sharing one grant with several communities and Laurentian Hills will receive their first choice of new helmets with the remaining grant money being shared with three other departments.

I called Chief Kevin Waito with the news of their grant and he was very happy to hear it. Kevin was born and raised in the area and joined the department in 1982, becoming chief in 1991. He shared this photo of his volunteers in action. This is what giving back to the community looks like.

Congrats to Kevin and all the volunteers!

Papineau-Cameron Fire Department

Papineau-Cameron Fire Department
Mattawa, Ontario

Their Grant: $6,000
To Purchase: New Radio Headsets

“Sometimes our headset works, sometimes it doesn’t,” says Lt. Noelle Armaly pictured here with volunteer Dan O’Grady. “If you have people inside a building and you run out of water and you can’t tell anyone, that’s bad. We could really use a new headset.”

The department originated in 1981 in a small garage and storage space. When a call came in, everyone made their way to the garage to load a few portable pumps, hose and hand tools into the back of someone’s pickup truck.

Today, the deoatment’s 18 volunteer firefighters train regularly to provide their community many services including structural, wild land, roadway emergencies, medical assistance and public education.

The Township of Papineau-Cameron is a picturesque mix of fields and forests, rolling hills and waterways, where its 1,000 residents enjoy country life, hunting/fishing, off-road motorsports and golf.

I called  Deputy Chief Mariel Labreche to surprise her with the news of their grant. (that’s her handsome son in the photo above). She said this was wonderful news and shared a photo of how they do rescue training.

Congratulations to the Papineau-Cameron Fire  Department!

Wabigoon Fire Department

Wabigoon Fire Department
Wabigoon, Ontario

Their Grant: $3,000
To Purchase: Eight batteries to power everything from hydraulic rescue tools to area lighting, new gloves, a new AED (Automated External Defibrillator), 8 new flashlights and 2 backboards for patient packaging on the highway.

Wabigoon is a small village (population 600) on the Trans-Canada Highway. Their 16 volunteer firefighters deal primarily with multi-vehicle collisions because they serve 100 miles of highway. They are often on the scene before police and ambulance.

“The difference could literally be life and death for highway collisions,” said Prevention Officer Richard Wetelainen, puncutating their need for this emergency equipment. “In 40 below weather, a patient could freeze to death in minutes.”

Wabigoon is home to a mix of First Nations Métis and immigrants. The Métis are recognized as one of Canada’s aboriginal peoples who trace their descendants to First Nations peoples and European settlers.

I called Richard Wetalaine with the department to surprise him with the news. “This will make a huge difference for us,” he said. “New batteries might not seem expensive, but they are very expensive to us.” He was so appreciative and went on to say, “It’s like giving a city department two million dollars.” He also sent a photo of the volunteers on the job.

Oh, and he also invited me up to go walleye fishing! Congratulations to Kevin and all the volunteers. I’m happy to make a difference.

Redditt Fire Department

Redditt Fire Department
Redditt, Ontario

Their Grant: $2,500
To Purchase: Computer/printer, DVD/TV for training

The Redditt volunteers are a team of 6 to 8 members (some seasonal) who gather and train in fire response for the wellbeing of the community, a hamlet of approximately 150 people along with summer cottagers and winter snowmobilers.

Their department does not have internet so paperwork is often printed elsewhere. The TV/DVD player would allow them to watch training materials as a team in the fire hall rather than lending DVDs out to members to take home.

Redditt was originally a small CN rail town, accessible only by rail as a stop for water to cool the steam engines along the route. Today the locals have regular community gatherings like community breakfasts, dinners, markets, and curling.

They acknowledge they are a small department so the new equipment would “modernize” the department and help boost team morale and help maintain members.

I called Chief Thomas Choong, who was very happy to hear from me, not just about the grant but because he used to watch my show growing up. He said this gift with make things more functional for the team. I also learned that he teaches young people in some of the isolated First Nations communities, and he’s also a boxing coach at Ambush Boxing! A good heart always finds ways to benefit others. Congratulations to Thomas and his team for this grant!

Firefighter Winning Grant TBA Tuesday

The winner of the first Jenny’s Heroes 🇨🇦 Canada grant will be announced on Tuesday, October 9th. It’s taking a little longer due to the overwhelming response – over 100 applications! Each application has been reviewed by a qualified panel of 4 people in Canada and I also reviewed every single one. Between all of us, we have finally agreed on where the first grant should go. I can hardly wait to share the news! 👨‍🚒 🚒

The Praying Mantis Incident

Praying MantisI found a praying mantis in my backyard last week and took some pictures, fascinated by its size and a head that turns 180 degrees, but it was still kind of pretty except for all those tiny razor blades on its front legs. But as big as it was, it moved slowly so I had no fear… not until the “incident.” After I took my pictures, I stayed in the backyard for an hour or so, then went inside and cooked dinner.

After dinner my husband went out with some friends and I drove to the mall. It was dark. As I was pulling in to a parking spot, I felt something on my left hand, grabbing my finger and biting or sticking me with something. I panicked because it was dark and I couldn’t see what it was. I shook my left hand but I still couldn’t see what it was. A spider? A scorpion? I jumped out of the car while it was still running and the interior light came on and I saw it… a praying mantis on my steering wheel. And it was huge! I didn’t know what to do.

I grabbed a kleenex from my purse but he looked bigger than the kleenex. I knew I had to act. I was trying to work up my nerve to grab him with the tissue when he suddenly dropped to the floor where there was no light. I ran around to get a flashlight out of my glove box, came back and shone the light but he was gone. But where?  Somewhere in my car. Even if I found him I wouldn’t know what to do. Maybe it was time to sell the car.

I called my husband and said I will not get back in the car so he came and let me drive his car home and he drove mine (my hero ❤️). Once in our garage with lots of light, he was unable to find the intruder. I cut some leaves off a shrub and placed them inside my car overnight hoping it would coax him out but the next morning he was still missing. Maybe he got out? Maybe he’s waiting for me to drive again so he can crawl on the back of my neck while I’m on the freeway. Click these pictures I found online to get a good look!

For the next couple of days we kept checking with flashlights and we never saw him. I was too scared to drive anywhere. By the third day we still didn’t see him but we did hear something… a scratching noise coming from inside the air conditioning vent right by the steering wheel. (It’s coming from inside the car!) The good news: We found him. The bad news: He can’t get out. He’s been there for days. Or maybe he CAN get out and is just resting. What if he crawls out while I’m driving? We took the car to three mechanics who said there’s nothing they can do without taking the whole dashboard apart so I should just let him die in there. I looked up how long a praying mantis can live without food – TWO WEEKS!

He must have hitched a ride on me when I was outside. But why didn’t he go after my salad? I spent ten minutes making a salad, and then ten minutes eating it. Where was he then? On my back? He must have been on me for two hours while I cooked and ate dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, and drove to the mall. I would like to go out today but it’s hot and I would need to run the air conditioning. What if he tries to get out while I’m driving and see I those bulging zombie eyes looking at me through the vent? I’d like to sell the car, with a praying mantis discount of course. Otherwise, to drive I need to arm myself… maybe drive with a fly swatter or an oven glove or a box of cats???