Our Mission, Our History, Our People

Ponoka & District Health Foundation

The Foundation was founded by community volunteers in 2011. We remain composed of a dedicated group of volunteers that, working in cooperation with local health professionals, ensures that dollars raised in Ponoka and the surrounding area are used to enhance and sustain high-quality healthcare in the community.

Festival of Trees event space


Ponoka & District Health Foundation exists to:

  • Solicit and receive donations of cash or property.
  • Enhance patient comfort and care.
    Use and administer donations for the benefit of:
  • Each health facility within the community;
  • Each community health program served by Foundation Projects.


A Working Committee, consisting of Larry Henkelman, Juanita Knight, Sandy Woodfin, Joan Van Wolde, and Dorothy Ungstad were involved for several years developing bylaws and seeking approval to establish the Foundation. Credit is given to Hon. Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Health & Wellness and Ray Prins, MLA Lacombe Ponoka, both of whom believed that fundraising was a local, and not provincial, priority. Their support was critical to the organization of Ponoka & District Health Foundation. On January 27, 2011, Alberta Health Services approved the formation of and bylaws of the Foundation. Ten trustees were appointed, all from Ponoka.
Close of Christmas Tree decorations
Festival of Trees event space

Founding Trustees

Ada Ashton, Dr. Brendan Bunting, Sybil Evans, Jim Hamilton, Gerry Hildebrand, Nell Liddle, Joanne McMillan, Howard Rowland, Linda Steinmann and Brenda Verhiere.

Secretary, Joan Van Wolde and Site leaders, Sue McKenzie, Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre; Dwight Hunks, Centennial Centre; and Lana Curle, Home Care and Continuing Care (non-voting members).

Current Trustees

Katherine Steblyk, Michelle Comeau, Valerie Schabert, Joan Van Wolde, Dorothy Ungstad, Tarina Du Toit, Leonard Icke, Leonard Standing On The Road, Charles Park, Ian Blake Ross, Marilyn Gardner, Lori Matejka, Glenda Gaudet (AHS, Non-Voting Member), Diane Rose (Festival of Trees Coordinator, Non-Voting Member), Cheryl Daly (Office Assistant, Non-Voting Member)
Christmas wreaths hanging on a wall

Team Bios

Katherine Steblyk


Having grown up in Ponoka, Katherine moved back to the community five years ago, following a 30-year teaching career. She finds fulfillment in giving back, and is currently President of the Tamarak Court Condo Association and a member of the Ponoka Food Bank Board. She’s also volunteered previously at the Leduc Food Bank and Beaumont Library board and is a new member of Ponoka & District Health Foundation.

Michelle Comeau

Vice Chair

Michelle is an asset to the Ponoka Community, as she volunteers for Victim Services and the mat program and is also Commanding Officer for the Local Air Cadets. She has lived in the community all her life and works as a Teacher Assistant at Ponoka Elementary School. She’s excited to volunteer with Ponoka & District Health Foundation’s Festival of Trees.

Valerie Schabert


Recently retired, Val is excited to use her time and energy to take on new roles. She presently volunteers with the Community Christmas Dinner and the Ponoka Hospital & Care Centre Auxiliary. She prides herself on her organizational skills and enjoys working with people and helping out in the community.

Joan Van Wolde


A lover of sports, Joan is passionate about her role as Administrator & Program Coordinator at Red Deer City Soccer. Living on a farm northwest of Ponoka, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, cycling, and camping in the mountains. Joan has been the volunteer secretary for Ponoka & District Health Foundation since its inception, and also served on its Founding Committee.

Dorothy Ungstad

Past Chair

A Ponoka & District Health Foundation founder, Dorothy is a retired teacher who enjoys volunteering with Alberta Retired Teachers and Ponoka Hospital Authority. She also tutors students, judges 4-H events, and engages in public speaking. Living northwest of Ponoka, Dorothy’s leisure activities include curling, reading, puzzling, playing Bridge, and working in her garden and flower beds.

Tarina Du Toit

Tarina was born in South Africa and grew up on a farm. She took her medical training at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and then moved to Ponoka in 2007. Initially the plan was to stay for just five years, but Ponoka and its kind people managed to convince her otherwise. So she has been working and living here since. Tarina loves golfing, reading, camping, traveling, and walking outdoors.

Leonard Icke

Leonard is a maintenance worker at the Centennial Centre. He volunteers with the Festival of Trees in Ponoka and Red Deer as well as many other groups in the community. He has numerous ideas for fundraising for the hospital and enjoys helping with activities.

Leonard Standing on The Road

Leonard is the Chief of Montana Cree Nation and Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations. He serves on several provincial boards to improve clean air and water as well as numerous committees for Cree Nation. He is devoted to working in the areas of addiction, early childhood, education, economic development, the health of residents in the community, and the Ponoka & District Health Foundation.

Charles Park

A retired farmer living north of Ponoka, Charles received his BSC in Agriculture in 1969 and put those skills to use while farming. He currently volunteers for his church and the Royal Canadian Legion, and he also helps out at various other community events. Charles believes that healthcare is an essential human need and is passionate about having an excellent community hospital.

Ian Blake Ross

Raised on a local farm, Blake has a BSC in Agri-Business management. He has previously worked with Procter and Gamble, FCC, Ag. Consulting Russias, and Almita Piling. He has also worked in the financial services sector in a self-employed capacity and is very active in the community.

Marilyn Gardner

Having retired after working as an Administrative Assistant for 24 years, Marilyn and her husband moved to Ponoka from BC in 2022. Looking to connect with people in the community, she immersed herself in volunteering and lent her services to the 2022 Festival of Trees. Marilyn’s mother spent 11 years in hospital in BC, so engaging with Ponoka & District Health Foundation is a natural fit for her. In her down time she enjoys gardening, golfing, crafting, and socializing.

Lori Matejka

Diane Rose

Event Consultant, Ponoka Festival of Trees Coordinator

Diane is the proud owner of Rose Creations Ltd. She takes pride in going above and beyond in making special events even more memorable, and her business has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards, including:

  • 2021, Nominated Top 4 at Iwed Gala in Las Vegas for Outstanding Wedding Design
  • 2021, Inner Lang Memorial Business Person of the Year Award, Ponoka AB
  • 2021, Nominated Small Business of the Year, Ponoka AB
  • 2020, Nominated Small Business of the Year, Ponoka AB


In the Community

The objectives and roles of Ponoka & District Health Foundation within the community are as follows:

  1. The Objectives of the Foundation (as listed in By-laws Article 4 – Objectives)
    1. To solicit and receive by gift, bequest, transfer, or otherwise, property of every nature and description:
      1. Subject to any prior trust conditions imposed on the use of property, to hold, use, and administer the property for the benefit of:
        1. Each health facility within Ponoka and district that is owned and operated by the relevant Regional Health Authority, and
        2. Each health program within Ponoka & District operated by the AHS.
    2. To further healthcare education for the residents of the communities served by the Foundation.
    3. The profits, income, and other property, if any, shall be applied solely toward the promotion of the objectives of the Foundation.
    4. The Foundation shall operate as a charitable organization only.
  2. The role of the Ponoka & District Health Foundation is to:
    1. Raise funds to enhance health services in Ponoka.
    2. Raise awareness in the community about health needs.
  3. The Foundation was founded by a community of volunteers in 2011. The Ponoka & District Health Foundation is comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers who work in cooperation with local health professionals to ensure that dollars raised in Ponoka & District are used to enhance and sustain quality healthcare in our community.
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