Strathmore resident Brandy Hebbes received the Alberta Blue Cross Community Wellbeing grant, an award that recognizes 75 Albertans for their exceptional community service.

Hebbes has been one of the Wheatland Society of Arts (WSA) most dedicated volunteers for the last 21 years; she's served many positions like secretary, president, director at large, and is currently the treasurer. Her commitment to the WSA earned her the Community Wellbeing grant, which gives $1000 to the WSA and an additional $1000 to Hebbes, which she is donating straight into the WSA so the society will receive $2000.

Hebbes said she receiving the grant came as a surprise to her, and she was overjoyed when she learned that she was chosen

"This is just crazy exciting when I think of all the people out there that give and give and give and then to be chosen as one of them, that is... I'm so honoured, that's incredible," she said. 

Hebbes was nominated by Town Councillor Denise Peterson, and Hebbes said being nominated by Peterson made the award even more special, as Hebbes believes Peterson is equally deserving of the award.

"She's always been a role model to me as far as giving," Hebbes said. 

As for what the $2000 can be used for, Hebbes is excited for the future of the WSA now that they have extra funds to work with. She explained the WSA has extensive programming geared towards all ages and groups of people, and this money can enhance these programs and keep them going. Some of these programs include but aren't limited to:

  • Adaptive art. This is centred on people with physical and/or mental disabilities to make art accessible to all.
  • Seniors' programming
  • Low-cost youth programming for kids that may not b able to afford more expensive activities like certain sports.
  • Monthly free paint nights

"The adaptive is absolutely free, those people just love those classes, some of them arranged their whole week around their art class."

Hebbes has been committed to volunteering for more than two decades now, and for her she said it's worth it to be able to promote art in the community and give people a place to belong and get to know each other.

"Maybe they're not even artists, we find that some of these groups, sometimes they're not even really artists. They're just there to hang out with cool people and feel like they belong to something." 

Because community is such a big focus for Hebbes and the WSA, she explained the WSA is frequently collaborating with other community groups to continue to grow Strathmore and area's art scene. Saying the WSA is "not just about building our fortress," she says the WSA always has open doors for anyone or any groups interested in working with them and enjoying art.

While community is a big focus for her and the WSA, Hebbes also spoke to the importance art has on the individual, as it offers a unique form of self-expression and can help people learn more about themselves and show who they are or what they're feeling.

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