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Philanthropy

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! 👨‍🚒 🚒


Help is Coming Soon

Jenny's Heroes CanadaHere is the place I grew up. The beautiful province of Ontario, Canada is one of ten provinces and three territories that make up the country and of course, Ontario is the best one! 🙂 Of the 2 million beautiful lakes in Canada, 250,000 are in Ontario, along with moose, elk, timber wolves, bears, caribou and more, especially farther north. All of this land and wild life is vulnerable to fires and there are hundreds of teams of volunteer firefighters all over Ontario ready to jump in during an emergency. Whether it be a fire or a highway crash, water or ice rescues, or any medical emergency, volunteer firefighters are on it. I respect their commitment to their communities and the risks they are willing to take.

My offer of providing equipment to these brave firefighters is underway and applications are coming in (a lot more than I expected) and being reviewed by a team of professionals in Canada and myself here in the U.S.. Requests have come in from as far south as Windsor (close to my hometown  of London), east almost to Ottawa, our capital, west to the border of Manitoba, and as far north and remote as Red Lake, Ear Falls, and Moonbeam.

Their needs cover a broad range of equipment from rescue craft to safety boots to new flashlights — it’s clear that help is needed. That’s why I’m here and I plan to continue this grant program as long as the needs are there. More details are coming soon.


Jenny’s Heroes Canada 🇨🇦

I have a profound respect for anyone who chooses a life of service to their community and even more so when the risks are great. That’s why I am offering grants up to $25,000 to support the small volunteer fire departments in Ontario, the province where I grew up. Not knowing where to start, I contacted the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs last month and got a warm reception from Executive Director Richard Boyes while I shared with him my desire to help, and he in turn provided a lot of helpful information about the needs of Ontario’s volunteer firefighters. I knew this was going to be good.

Mr. Boyes put me in touch with Michelle O’Hara (the one who did all the work!). She is the Business Development and Operations Manager for the OAFC and she worked tirelessly on putting this grant program together, addressing every tiny detail, sharing emails with me throughout, and now only one month later, we have a grant program!

We decided to call it “Jenny’s Heroes 🇨🇦 Canada” because anyone who chooses to help their fellow citizens is a hero and I love Canada and want to help where help might be needed. Simply put, these grants are for the purchase of equipment to support and keep safe the volunteer firefighters who serve in Ontario. For more on my new philanthropic venture click here.

By the way, I am very familiar with the beautiful province of Ontario. In the early 1960s when I was still a teenager, I played drums in a band and toured all over Ontario from my hometown of London all the way up to Kirkland Lake, Timmins, and Kapuskasing. In fact, I found a newspaper clipping of my first band, the JAD Trio playing in Kirkland Lake in 1965…

My career in show business began in Ontario in 1960s and took me all the way to the Jenny Jones Show, which was nationally syndicated from 1990 to 2003. I got lucky and now I want to give back.

Now here is some information about Jenny’s Heroes U.S. where everyday people spent my donations to benefit their communities and even THEY wanted to support their firefighters and first responders. Here are just a few of the gifts that were given:

Jaws of Life donated to the Wolf Creek All Volunteer Fire Department, Wolf Creek, Oregon

400 High Visibity Safety Vests + 28 Sets of Battery Operated Turbo Flares donated to  Clark County Emergency Responders, Greenwood, Wisconsin

Fully Equipped Dodge Charger Police Car donated to the Ludwiki Police Department, Hinesville, Geogia

Narcotics Tracking Dog donated to the Charles City Police Department, Charles City, Iowa

Thermal Imaging Camera, Jaws of Life Pump, Rescue Saw, Deck Gun, and AR-FFF-Foam donated to the Turkey Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Turkey Creek, Kentucky

4-Wheel Drive Patrol Vehicle donated to the Gillette College Campus Police in Gillette, Wyoming

Telescoping Pole Trimmer Saws donated to Middlesex Taylor Township Volunteer Fire Department, Johnstown, Pennsylvania

For more on “Jenny’s Heroes 🇨🇦 Canada,” click here.

For more on Ontario Fire Services Equipment Grant, please visit the OAFC website.


Helping To Make a Difference

This is what I love to do the most. Sharing my good fortune with others is so rewarding and this month I was able to support some good people who are helping those often forgotten. The Anti-Recidivism Coalition in Southern California helps people coming out of prison to get their life back on track. They needcd two vans to transport residents to and from their housing programs where they provide support with education and career opportunities. I bought the vans and they are already in use:

Bromont Magnolia Vans

One of the life skills they teach at the housing programs is cooking and they needed new kitchen equipment. You know I was happy to provide that as well. Lots of it.

Kitchen Supplies2

Learning to cook will not only keep them healthy, it can also lead to a great career. I like to think that someone who was driven in these trucks and who learned to cook using these tools, will become a productive citizen with a good job, maybe as a cook, maybe even using my recipes!


Out of Heartbreak, Some Hope

 

Celebrity and philanthropist Jenny Jones loved her sister. And her sister, Liz Rankin, loved My Sisters’ Place.

So it was appropriate that when her sister died, Jones decided to donate $50,000 to the London women’s shelter. And it was appropriate the donation be announced among dozens of women there Wednesday.

This plaque will hang at My Sister’s Place in appreciation of a $50,000 donation from Jenny Jones in memory of her sister, Liz Rankin. (DEREK RUTTAN, The London Free Press)

“It was very close to her, what they do here,” said Andrea VanderWeide, who’s Rankin’s daughter and Jones’s niece. “My mom had mentioned to my aunt many times that this was a charity that meant something to her. My aunt is pretty shook up. She wanted to honour my mom’s memory.”

The Jones family grew up in London, with the matriarch the original Sophie of Sophie’s Gown Shoppe, where growing up, Jenny and her sister, Liz, would pose in the windows as models and help with the sewing. Jenny Jones became a household name, hosting her own talk show from 1990 to 2003, and a generous, behind-the- scenes contributor to many causes.

Liz Rankin became a loyal employee at Drewlo Holdings in London, retiring only a few years ago. She died suddenly May 7, 2017, at 73. “My mom was a strong, independent woman,” VanderWeide said. “If there is anything that stands out about my mom, in the memory of anyone who ever met her, it would be her desire to help. She knows somewhere that she is still helping.”

Not long after Rankin’s death, My Sisters’ Place received a phone call from someone who said she was Jenny Jones, director Susan Macphail recalled. “I said, is that the Jenny Jones? She called because she had just suffered a heartbreak. Her beloved sister had passed away.” Jones spoke about her love of her sister and her support of women helping women, Macphail said. Jones wasn’t able to attend Wednesday’s announcement.

The shelter decided to put the money toward several women’s empowerment programs, including a theatre group, financial literacy sessions, peer support and self-compassion groups, which don’t have regular funding.

“It’s always bittersweet when we receive a gift that is in memory of someone,” said Beth Mitchell, chief executive of Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex, which operates My Sisters’ Place. “We know it represents a loss for the family and the community. On the other hand, we hope that this legacy brings some comfort. Certainly, for us it brings us much joy and we know it will be used well.”

Two women who use My Sisters’ Place spoke Wednesday about the impact of the organization on their lives. “Before I found My Sisters’ Place, I was homeless, addicted and suffering from severe mental health issues,” Beth said. “With the help of My Sisters’ Place, I am housed, happily married, no longer addicted and my mental health is in check.”

Just coming each day and seeing women who want to help changes lives, Patricia said. “It gives us a sense of hope, coming in and seeing friends and people just gathered around.”


Opening Day for Shelah’s Place!

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The new playground is finally open! There were hundreds of excited children, just waiting for us to cut the ribbon and then wow! They ALL ran past us to play! That was the moment I had dreamed about but seeing it in person was even better than I imagined.

IMG_9693 copyThey played on every single new piece of equipment, climbing, spinning, hanging upside down, and all I could hear was the sound of pure joy. This new play area is now the largest fully accessible playground in the city.

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The triple slide seemed to be a big hit with the little ones, especially when they land on the new soft rubber safety surface.

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It was hard to count but it looked like at least 300 kids ran on to play and we had about 1,000 people who came for the opening. It was so much fun, with free snow cones, cupcakes, and face-painting. Here’s a little girl who stopped to thank me for the new playground.

Face Paint copyI simply can’t put into words how rewarding this was for me and the joy that I felt seeing this playground in person. It took a team of people from the city who worked for almost a year to make it happen and my gratitude goes out to every one on the team. I appreciate how many people turned out for the opening on a beautiful, but hot, sunny day. Most importantly, I got the share this day with the person whose idea and vision made this all possible, my London Hometown Hero, Shelah Brook. Welcome to “Shelah’s Place.”

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Playground is Almost Ready

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Kids in London are counting the days until the new playground is open and it’s almost ready. The colors are just as fun and bright as I imagined. And the number of things to do will be awesome. I love the triple slide!

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Next, they’ll be installing the rubber safety surfacing and I’m especially happy that this new playground will be handicapped accessible. I can’t wait to see it in person!