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More Support for Ontario Heroes

How lucky am I to be able to follow my passion for helping firefighters and first responders in my home province of Ontario? I’m overjoyed today to be announcing my third series of grants to five volunteer fire departments across the province. From the Pikwakanagan Fire Rescue to four other departments in all corners of the province, these various departments will receive 8 new sets of bunker gear, a Jaws of Life, a water tender, portable safety lights, and 30 sets of high visibility coveralls. It’s a well spent $50,000 if it helps keep the ones who volunteer to serve their communities safe.

For more on these heroes please visit

Travis Wiersma, My First Hero

It was 2008 when I created Jenny’s Heroes, offering everyday people up to $25,000 to spend to benefit their communities.

My first hero was Travis Wiersma.

Travis WiersmaTravis was a night janitor at Madison Area Technical College (MATC) in Wisconsin and he requested $25,000 to provide new training equipment for the nursing program. Today, Travis is battling cancer and I just want to share his story so the world can see what a special person this is and what a difference he made with his gift.

I chose Travis from over 2,000 applicants. In his application he wrote: “i clean at night and thier is one program at the school that could use some help with upgrads the nures program..all the stuff they use looks like from the 60& would be a dream too see the staff teach the stundents with state of art stuff,this would help the stundents,by the time they pass the corse,they would be able to use state of art stuff.when the get into the real world..then next year there would be new stundents ready to learn..this would go on for ever”  His grammar wasn’t perfect but his idea was.

Travis bought the school $25,000 worth of new equipment!

  • ~ He was on the news and featured in the local paper.
  • ~ He was the guest of honor at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand re-opening.
  • ~ He got a standing ovation from over 150 faculty and staff at the school.
  • ~ He got a plaque installed in his honor.
  • ~ He was congratulated by the MATC’s Dean of Health, Dr. Sido.

Travis WiersmaOver 250 registered nurses and over 1,000 nursing assistants graduate every year from MATC and his gift will be in use for years to come, ultimately helping many thousands of healthcare workers as they head into the workforce. Travis’s proud mom, Sandy, who also worked at MATC, was there for the grand re-opening, taking this photo with her son.

Travis Wiersma

Travis said, “I was just shocked to be selected. I never thought I would be one of Jenny’s Heroes. It’s an awesome feeling. I know my dream will be helping many nursing students coming in and it will just keep revolving. It will be a gift that keeps on giving. As for me, this experience has changed my life.”

It turns out that Travis’s grandmother was a nurse which makes his donation even more personal.

Bea SpyrosTravis’s grandmother, Bea Spyros.

To see more of Travis’s story, click here.

$50,000 in Grants

Congratulations to the volunteer firefighters at the Suisun Fire Protection District in Fairfield, California, one of five California Fire Departments to receive Jenny’s Heroes California grants today. The 40 volunteers at Suisun are receiving $25,000 to purchase new turnout gear. The other four departments will be getting new radios, self-contained breathing apparatuses, a portable water tank, and a radio repeater system with solar panels. It’s all about keeping them safe.

This is the first of my grants for the heroes who volunteer to serve their communities in my home state of California. To see more on these grants or to send them your love, click here.

Jenny’s Heroes California is Here

Jenny's Heroes CaliforniaI’m excited to share my second grant program for volunteer fire departments, this time in my home state of California. I’m offering $50,000 in grants to provide safety equipment for the small volunteer departments throughout the state.

Having seen my share of fires in California, some of them visible from my house, I’m always in awe of the bravery and commitment our firefighters make to save lives and property. This is my way to say thank you. For more on Jenny’s Heroes California, click here.

More Love for Volunteer Firefighters

Hey, who wants to put on 75 pounds of equipment and go into a house on fire? No? Well these people, and many others, actually volunteer to do it for the good of their community. That’s why I am driven to help.

I just revealed the six winners of my second series of grants to Ontario’s volunteer firefighters. Pictured above is the team from the Township of East Zorra-Tavistock who will receive a fire suppression kit. Five other departments will be receiving a radio repeater, vehicle stabilization kit, thermal imaging cameras, and AED, gas detectors, and tablets for fire trucks. It’s my first of three grant opportunities this year.

It’s a privilege to do my part to help keep these volunteers safe and to help them provide the best service to their communities. To see all the winners or to send them a message, just go to

$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) by PUFF Chairman Nick Vander Zande (right) in recognition of Bennett’s 30+ years of service to the volunteer fire department.

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!