Thanks to your generosity, we're able to provide students with new opportunities and support on the path to successful careers. Your donations contribute to the development of our programs, improvement of our facilities and make a difference in the lives of many students.
Every donor has a story: learn more about some of our donors below.
Honouring the life and legacy of Helena Webb
Nearly $3 million has been raised to honour the life and legacy of Helena Webb, long-time lead in the President’s Office at Conestoga College.
For more than 40 years, Helena Webb oversaw operations in the President's Office at Conestoga College, providing support and wise counsel to the Board of Governors and three of the four presidents in the college's history, including curent president John Tibbits. On December 25, 2021, she passed away following a long illness. “About a week before Helena passed, a [Conestoga] donor called to say that she wanted to establish a fund in Helena’s name,” Tibbits remembered.
For many people, this donor included, Helena was Conestoga College.
“So many people knew that if they talked to Helena, it was like talking to the president,” said Tibbits. “This donor knew how vital she was to the success of the college and she wanted Helena to know it too.”
In her final days, Helena worked closely with President Tibbits and the donor to plan how the funds would be spent. They agreed to advance a project close to Helena’s heart and key to the college’s business plan: the launch of a Talent Development Hub that will enhance the scale and quality of employment and career services available to students, graduates and community members.
On track to open at Conestoga’s downtown Kitchener campus in October, the Talent Hub will provide guidance for high school students considering their post-secondary options, as well as aptitude testing, career planning, résumé and interview support for Conestoga students and alumni.
It will also be a go-to resource for employers seeking recruitment, training and education support.
“Helena knew how important it was for Conestoga to show that we’re with our students every step of the way, helping them grow, succeed and become the best they can be,” explained President Tibbits.
The idea quickly gained momentum and soon, the Helena Webb Fund topped $2.7 million. Dozens of donors were eager to support the landmark project and celebrate the life of a woman whose professionalism, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and unfailing sense of humour impacted generations of college students, staff, volunteers, alumni, and community and business partners.
“Thank you all for contributing to the legacy of a person who made such a big difference at Conestoga,” said John Tibbits.
A million ways to say thanks
Guelph manufacturing company Linamar invests in 30 years of Conestoga skilled trades graduates
“The college has always been a champion for maintaining the value of hands-on learning experiences,” said Shaun Scott, director of organizational development at Guelph, Ontario-based Linamar Corporation. He points to the opening this fall of Conestoga’s Skilled Trades Campus, home to more than 150,000 square feet of shops and labs.
That depth of commitment to skilled training matters so much to the advanced manufacturing company, in fact, that the senior leadership decided to say thank you with a gift. They established renewable scholarships for students in the Mechanical Technician – General Machinist program and then added an opportunity for the award winners to apply their skills during an eight-month co-op placement at the company.
Thirty-four Conestoga students have been awarded Linamar Corporation Skilled Industrial Trades Scholarships since the program launched in 2016. Hundreds more have pursued co-ops at Linamar, with many going on to work at one of the company’s global manufacturing or technology development centres after graduation.
“We have a real passion for skilled trades and technology and want to encourage young people to see those fields as a first-choice career option,” said Scott. He describes the scholarships as a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Linamar is sending a message to Conestoga’s students that "there are career opportunities and a corporate partner willing to support them."
It’s just one example of the many ways that the company has forged deep connections to the college.
Over 30 years, Linamar has donated more than $1 million to Conestoga, including gifts-in-kind of an autonomous mobile robot and forklift. The company and college have also partnered on Ontario government proposals for programs that reflect changing industry needs. In addition, eight Linamar staff members are currently volunteering their time as members of Conestoga’s program advisory committees.
“Whether it is new graduate recruitment or professional development for our leadership team, we always reach out to Conestoga, and they always seem to have what we need,” said Scott.
Thirty years of Conestoga connectionsNith Valley Construction Ltd. is giving back to promote education and grow Canada’s skilled trades sector
Nith Valley Construction Ltd. is a New Hamburg-based general contracting company that has supported Conestoga's Architecture Construction Engineering Technology (ACET) program for almost 30 years.
“We give to promote education and to help get more people involved in skilled trades,” said Nith Valley President Bob Zehr, who credits his predecessor Ron Roeder, a 1974 ACET graduate, with seeing the need to bridge the skilled trades gap years before it became an urgent issue.
Several Conestoga graduates got their start at Nith Valley, including Bob’s brother, Don Zehr (ACET’84), now contract administration, estimating at Brick & Co. Restorations Ltd., and recently retired Conestoga professor Glen Good (ACET’82). The company is also an active supporter of the college’s co-op and apprenticeship programs, and Bob serves as a member of the Trades and Apprenticeship Program Advisory Committee.
“Conestoga’s ACET graduates are our carpenters, building inspectors, architectural technologists, estimators and site supervisors,” explained Bob. “It’s such a well-rounded program. The graduates aren’t experts in any one field; they have a broad knowledge.”
For ACET student Brenna Calcutt, their support made a huge difference.
Her academic term at Conestoga had just ended and Brenna was worried about her bank balance.
“I had just signed a year-long lease and my next tuition deposit was due early in the summer,” she remembers. Her summer job was underway, but there was little time to save before the next bill was due.
And then she received an email that changed everything.
“It said I had won an award.” At the virtual ceremony a week later, Brenna received the ACET Math Excellence Award, presented to the top math student in the first year of Conestoga’s Architecture Construction Engineering Technology (ACET) program. The honour included a $500 stipend, supported by a group of loyal donors, including Nith Valley Construction Ltd.
Now in her second-year of the three-year program, Brenna is amassing her own toolbox of knowledge and skills. She’s grateful to Nith Valley for helping to make that possible.
“When I received that email, it felt like everything fell into place. The financial security was a really big thing for me, but it was also the validation, that all the hard work of the last year was worth it,” she said, adding that the recognition was particularly satisfying as one of just a handful of female students in a male-dominated class.
“I believe in myself and am confident in my ability, but to have Nith Valley recognize that is very validating. It’s a great feeling.”
The graduate's new clothes
How $100 and a new suit inspired Conestoga alumnus Troy Miller to spend 30 years giving back
Troy Miller remembers the donor and the $100 that changed his professional life.
The vice president and COO of Tillsonburg, Ontario software company IMA Ltd. was in the final year of his 1993 Conestoga business administration diploma when he was awarded the Danby Sales Award.
“I remember receiving the honour and thinking, ‘This is much-needed money for someone who just paid for three years of school,’” he said. “I decided I should use it for something in my professional life.”
Troy marched straight to a Waterloo menswear store and used the $100 toward a brand-new suit. He wore it when he landed his first full-time job.
“I vowed then that I would somehow pay the college community back,” he said.
Ten years later he got his chance when his father, then the Waterloo Region deputy chief of police, heard at a meeting that Conestoga was looking for local business leaders to help advise on program content. Troy joined the Marketing Program Advisory Committee in 2003 and has served as its chair since 2005. In addition to keeping faculty abreast of industry trends, he has helped to revamp multiple course curricula, spoken to countless Conestoga business classes on topics including marketing plans and professional sales, mentored individual students, and served as a judge at student case competitions.
Troy has also invested financially, creating an award to honour the outstanding achievements of first-and second-year Conestoga marketing students. He is proud to present the Purple One Holdings Award and a second award created by the Program Advisory Committee at the college’s annual awards ceremony.
“I had some great mentors in my academic and professional life. Having that ability to pay it forward by working with students, indirectly through course content or directly through mentorship, is so incredibly rewarding to me,” Troy explained.
By giving back as both a volunteer and a donor, he believes alumni can make the difference between a quality education and a quality education that includes experience.
“There’s a misconception that you need to give large sums of money to make a difference. That’s simply not true,” he said. “Our involvement today can make the school and the student experience better tomorrow. Even a modest investment of time or money can set graduates on a rewarding career path."
Almost like wearing a lucky new suit.
Marc Proulx Canadian Woodworking Machinery Distributors Association
“It is a pleasure for the CWMDA to support your efforts and you can count on us for the future. What you do is most important for your students and for our industry. Thank you!”
Amanda HealthMake It Right Charity
“We are so pleased to continue our support for these awards. I'm sure every bit of financial aid is appreciated as each recipient pursues their chosen career in the construction and skilled trades industries.”
Inge PudelekPresident, Sani Gear Inc.
“What a wonderful way to start my Monday with such a lovely letter from a student like that! You know you have my support for the Leadership award once more this year for the classes. I love the impact it has had.”