By Matthew Liebenberg
Three local community organizations are benefitting from funds raised at an outdoor concert in Swift Current.
The 2023 Taking it to the Streets concert took place at Kinetic Park in Swift Current on Aug. 20, featuring Saskatchewan’s Johner Brothers and headlined by Nashville-based country artist Aaron Goodvin.
This was the fifth consecutive year that Bumper to Bumper Great West Auto Electric partnered with other businesses to host the event as a community fundraiser.
Event co-organizer Leanne Tuntland-Wiebe from Bumper to Bumper Great West Auto Electric said 62 businesses and organizations were involved with this year’s concert.
“That’s the most that we’ve ever had,” she noted “We couldn’t do this without those 62 other businesses and organizations helping us. It’s really a community endeavour that gets paid back out into the community and we thank each and every one of them for coming on board with us for the last five years. Something like this is a pretty big event in Swift Current. It’s a bunch of little guys that come together to put on something really big and we’re so proud of that.”
Cheque presentations with a total value of $8,000 were made to three groups, Sept. 20. SaskAbilities and Special Olympics each received $2,000 and the People at Risk homelessness initiative received $4,000.
SaskAbilities Swift Current Community Relations Coordinator Jenny Dyck said the donation will go towards their 2023 Superhero Walk, Wheel, Run! fundraiser in support of programs that provide youth and children experiencing disability with opportunities to participate in various outdoor and group recreational activities.
“We’re just incredibly grateful for community partners like Leanne and Bumper to Bumper,” Dyck said. “This was not something that we were expecting. We were grateful that she included us in their Taking it to the Streets concert. So this is just a wonderful surprise.”
SaskAbilities Swift Current has been involved as a community partner since the inaugural Taking it to the Streets concert took place in 2019. Special Olympics Swift Current came on board more recently and their involvement grew this year.
Jackie Powell, a Special Olympics coach and program coordinator for the local board, said this donation was unexpected.
“We’ve worked with Leanne for a couple of years now,” Powell mentioned. “The support that she and the organization has given to Special Olympics locally has been just remarkable for our athletes. The funds will go to assisting our athletes attending competitions and just regular programming that will support our athletes.”
Tuntland-Wiebe reached out to Special Olympics Swift Current and asked them to help out at the concert. Powell felt the athletes benefit from the experience of being involved with the community.
“We clean up the grandstand and the grounds area after the concert,” she said. “So garbage, bottles, all of that kind of stuff. Sometimes there’s a lot there. It keeps all of us busy after the concert is over, but we also get to enjoy the concert. So that’s a bonus.”
Rev. Dr. Greg Kiel and Rev. David Clarke from the Swift Current and Area Ministerial Association (SCAMA) accepted the cheque for the People at Risk homelessness initiative.
“They’ve been very generous in giving us this money,” Kiel said. “We’re going to be using it for getting our project going. We’re hoping to have something in place for people at risk starting Nov. 1 through the cold months to the end of April.”
SCAMA established the People at Risk subcommittee to consider ways to support homeless individuals in the community. A public information night was held in January and various options are under consideration, varying from a warming bus to using a downtown location to offer a space for people to stop in.
“We’re keeping all those options open right now and certainly these funds are going toward that, whatever direction we move toward,” he said.
Clarke added that the subcommittee is currently trying to put policies together to make sure all the various details are in place as they move forward.
“Our main concern is wanting to make sure that people who might be on the streets during extreme weather conditions have some place to go where they’re safe, where they can keep warm or even cool down during hot summer days,” he said. “Our concern is that people aren’t left on their own to fend for themselves during those times.”
The inaugural Taking it to the Streets concert in 2019 took place in downtown Swift Current as a way to thank residents for their efforts to create a great community through volunteering. Its success was a motivation for the event to continue thereafter. It took place in the parking lot at Kinetic Park for two years and since 2022 it moved to the grandstand at Kinetic Park.
It continued the original intention of giving back to the community. Various community groups benefitted from the event, either through donations or their involvement at the event to raise funds for their organization. Tuntland-Wiebe said it resulted in over $20,000 of donations to non-profit groups.
The 2023 concert was another great success, but Tuntland-Wiebe and Bumper Great West Auto Electric felt the time has come to step back.
“If somebody else wants to take it over, we would certainly partner with them and help,” she said. “So if nobody wants to take it over, that’s probably the end, but five years has been a good run for something that was supposed to be a one-off and look how much we’ve donated back into the community.”