Smaller communities often need to work a bit harder to gather the money they need for projects and while many struggle to find funding, Olds has an ace in the hole.

Andrea Hawiuk is the go-to person when there is a need for fundraising in the community.

She’s helped with everything from helping with hospice suites in a seniors complex to donating to special needs children.

Her first foray into fundraising started years ago when she owned a hair salon in the community. One night, she held a fashion show and musical event.

“I gave the money to the special needs children for swimming and for the Meals on Wheels,” Hawiuk said. “That’s where it all started.”

Now, working for 40 years, Hawiuk has raised thousands for a variety of causes in Olds.

Debbie Schindler, the service co-ordinator at the hospice, says Hawiuk doesn’t just raise money; she listens to and supports people in need too.

Her efforts also extend beyond the community too. Just last month, she organized a mental health conference for suicide and depression.

She says the turnout exceeded her expectations.

“I had no idea and I don’t think most people thought it would be that big of a deal here in Olds, but we live in an awesome community.”

Olds mayor Judy Dahl says she has a great appreciation for what Hawiuk has done and what she means to the community.

Dahl says she and the city council are working from her example.

“[She’s a] strong woman, courageous woman to take these projects on her own so that’s when I thought it would be important to try very hard to take some of her incentives and her dreams to council and try and help her out.”

For all her work to make Olds a better place, Andrea Hawiuk is our Inspired Albertan this week.

(With files from Darrel Janz)