Connected Communities Project


For Immediate Release – Thursday, March 31

Community Foundation Supports Unified Website and
Social Media Project to Bring People Together in Vulcan County

The Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta has awarded the first grant from the Henry S. Varley Fund for Rural Life to a project in Vulcan County that aims to bring residents closer together – virtually.

“We are pleased to provide $30,000 to help the communities of Vulcan County develop an online strategy which will result in a more cohesive way for the greater Vulcan area to showcase its many features, and for people – regardless of where they are in the world — to learn about Vulcan County communities,” said Barb Godkin, a Community Foundation Board member and resident of Milo, Alberta, a roughly 150-resident village within Vulcan County.

The grant was received by the Village of Arrowwood as the sponsoring community, with the Chief Administrative Officer and Council managing the project alongside the Vulcan Business Development Society.

A massive area that encompasses more than 5,400 sq. km of land about an hour north of Lethbridge by car, Vulcan County covers an area roughly six times the size of the entire City of Calgary. To bring County communities and the people within them closer together, representatives from the Vulcan Business Development Society (VBDS) recently devised a process by which all communities would be connected by a unified social media, website and community relations strategy.

“We know that people make major decisions based on online impressions and information,” said Marilyn MacArthur, the Manager of the Vulcan Business Development Society. “We already have a number of remote workers and entrepreneurs in our area, and with a more unified and contemporary online presence, they can be as competitive in their business as someone in a larger centre. The funding from the Community Foundation will allow us to jump-start this project, and we are extremely pleased their selection committee chose the communities of Vulcan County as the first recipients of a Henry S. Varley Fund for Rural Life grant.”

MacArthur added that the ultimate goal of the project is to help people have a rural lifestyle and urban online connectivity. “We want to ensure that people who visit or consider a move to our County — no matter where they choose to live or work within it — see not only consistent information, but know that they have access to the same level of online services.”

Under the unified web system, MacArthur said each community has the flexibility to show and tell about its unique features and services while being part of the area as a whole – something she believes will serve the county’s nearly 7,000 residents and 15 communities well into the future.  The communities of Arrowwood and Milo are the first to have their web systems overhauled, with other communities to follow.

The Community Foundation’s Henry S. Varley Fund for Rural Life is supported by a $4.4 million estate bequest from the late Bill Long, a rancher from the Fishburn district southeast of Pincher Creek. Named for Long’s uncle Henry Varley, the interest income earned from the fund will provide grants that are focused on ensuring that rural communities in southwestern Alberta continue to thrive. Other interested donors can also contribute to this fund. Learn more here:

Background information:

The Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta is celebrating its 50th year of service to the region. Founded in 1966 with a $297 bank balance, the board-governed charitable foundation now boasts a stable, $25 million endowment portfolio and, this past fiscal year, granted more than $700,000 to 110 qualified community groups throughout southwestern Alberta.

Learn how to apply for a grant, here:

A brief financial statement can be found here:

View the Community Foundation’s 2015 community report, “Giving Together,” here:


Marilyn MacArthur, Manager
Vulcan Business Development Society
403-485-4100 / 403-485-1132

Caitlin Gadjostik, Communications Coordinator
Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta
403-328-5297 / 403-394-4461 cell
E-mail: Phone: 403-328-5297
Twitter: @LethFoundation

Bob Cooney, Communications Advisor
Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta