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
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)
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
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.
Papineau-Cameron Fire Department
“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.
Wabigoon Fire Department
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.
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!
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! 👨🚒 🚒