BY KALISHA MENDONSA
A Better World recently held the Evening of Gratitude event to recognize their donors who have over the years made substantial contributions at a minimum of $50,000.
The evening recognized many families, individuals and organizations who have a combined total donation over time of $12 million. These members are known as part of the Legacy Circle within A Better World and were honoured for their generous support.
Eric Rajah, founder of A Better World, said it is crucial to thank and recognize their sponsors who form the backbone of the charity and enable their good deeds around the world.
“The celebration was to recognize the people who in total have donated $12 million since we’ve started. Not all 65 donors were able to be here because they are from across Canada, but we have many here in Central Alberta,” Rajah said.
“I think a big advantage we have is that we take people to show them where their money has gone and how they are making a difference. That inspires them and other people. Instead of just hearing stories and looking at pictures from me, they get to really experience the difference they’re making.”
Gord Bontje, founding partner of Laebon Homes, was recognized with his family at his side with a Champion Donor Award for their significant and extraordinary donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Last year, Bontje told Rajah he’d like to do something special for his upcoming 60th birthday in 2017 and presented A Better World with a $500,000 donation – one of many generous contributions – to begin funding projects as needed.
This is one of the most significant donations to ever be presented to A Better World.
“I am blessed and I wanted to share that blessing locally and globally. I’ve been blessed and have had good fortune in my life and I want to give of my success,” Bontje said at the recognition event.
Rajah said Bontje and his wife Kathy, along with their two sons Steve and Adam, have been a long-standing family of support for A Better World. He said the family is present at many events and Gord has even taken a number of trips with the organization to check on the projects he has supported financially.
“With the Bontjes, we know that it’s not just about the money but that they truly care about the people they’re helping. They’re not just writing a cheque once in awhile either, they’ve been very consistent in their donations,” Rajah said.
“They have taken time to be with me before, during and after projects to know how they are making a difference. On top of that, they’re always asking me what else they can do.”
Rajah has praised the Bontje family for not only donating, but to donating to particularly marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities. Rajah explained these people often have an even more difficult in third world countries that other people, because there simply is not the education, facilities or care available to them.
“For example, we have a mentally challenged children’s school in Africa, and it’s extremely hard to fund these types of schools there. These disabled or mentally challenged children are at even more of a disadvantage in third world countries and have even less chances than others to get help. Gord specifically seeks out kids like this to put his money towards and help,” Rajah said.
Although he did give special thanks to the Bontje family, Rajah said each and every donation is necessary, appreciated and special to the organization.