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This article was published 30/12/2020 (300 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A local non-profit is calling for donations to continue helping inner-Winnipeg students pay for post-secondary tuition.
The pandemic has forced Westland Foundation to stop all its in-person fundraising events, which has taken a bite out of its donation pool.
Westland hopes community members in the position to donate will keep it in mind. Those unable to give can still help out by participating in the new #WestlandFdn video campaign.
Until Dec. 31, each video share (worth $1) will be matched, limited to $10,000, by Westland Foundation creator John Prystanski and director Walter Silicz — both of whom have volunteered with the non-profit since its humble beginnings in 1993.
Last year, the foundation was able to award over $89,000 in scholarships to 205 students. This year it had to scale back but still managed to dole out $60,000 to 160 students.
Morgan Neault is one student whose life has been made a little bit easier because of the Westland Foundation. The 19-year-old University of Winnipeg education student, who lives in Inkster Gardens, received $150 during her first year of her studies, which will be matched each subsequent year until graduation.
"The (Westland Foundation) really cares a lot about the education of the people they’re supporting," Neault said.
She said the money helped lighten her workload by allowing her to book off a handful of shifts around mid-terms to study.
Neault said these days she is either studying or working and rarely takes a day off. This semester, she’s tackling a full-time retail job, a part-time teaching gig, and part-time schooling.
"It’s as if I’m balancing three worlds," she said.
Neault is working toward her lifelong dream of being a teacher and currently has her mind set on teaching high school pre-calculus.
She plans to continue working while going to school and hopes to soak in the university experience and take advantage of other learning opportunities along the way.
Westland Foundation invited Neault to host its online fundraiser in October, and she jumped at the opportunity.
The Westland Foundation created its own alumni association in 2018 to give scholarship recipients a way to connect with other intrepid academics.
"Outside of just the financial value, I think (scholarships) tell students that we care, that the community cares." Prystanski said. "In some ways we’re the proverbial shoulder to learn on."
Prystanski said he wants to see the foundation continue to grow, with the end goal of giving one post-secondary scholarship to every inner-Winnipeg student.
Those interested in donating to help students like Neault and many others can visit www.westlandfoundation.ca
Katlyn Streilein is the reporter/photgrapher for The Metro.