Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) has carried debt during a number of periods in its history, including the present. At times the debt has been the result of facility expansion projects, and at other times it has been the result of operating deficits. In the recent past, we have focused on controlling operations to prevent additional deficits; restoring facilities with paint, shingles and other repairs; and making MHV a popular and comfortable place to visit. As a result, we have not focused specifically on debt reduction other than working toward operating surpluses which would eventually reduce the debt. We are pleased to report that we have not created further debt in the last five years, operating at a breakeven point each year.

MHV's annual income is derived from three basic source categories. In 2013 we earned 52% of our income from our four business units – Admissions, the Livery Barn Restaurant, Facility Rentals, and Village Books and Gifts. Government grants, including federal, provincial and civic levels of government, made up 15% of our income. The balance, 33%, came from general donations and fundraising activities such as the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament, the Tractor Trek, Supper from the Field, and other similar events. These percentages will vary somewhat from year to year.
Currently our debt is in the form of an operating line of credit at the Steinbach Credit Union. Our credit limit is $600,000, and because we usually draw on the entire line at specific times of the year, our debt might be stated as being $600,000.

Generally speaking, debt reduction does not present itself as an exciting undertaking. However, one of our generous supporters has recently offered to match, dollar-for-dollar, every donation designated for the reduction of our debt, up to a maximum of $100,000. This is a very generous offer and an exceptional opportunity for MHV.
We believe our constituency will be excited about this new development and will step up to the plate to participate. We've named this campaign Freedom 15, as our objective is to be free of debt in 2015.

We invite all people who value the work of MHV to respond with generosity. This will mean different things to different people. It is important to note that these donations need to be over and above one's regular donations toward the operating expenses of the museum. If regular undesignated donations are simply reassigned to Freedom 15, we may well experience a shortfall in the current year's operations income, which would again increase our debt levels. Drop in at MHV to contribute by cheque, cash, or credit card, or visit our website ( and donate via Canada Helps.
MHV's Mission is "to preserve and exhibit, for present and future generations, the experience and the story of the Russian Mennonites and their contributions to Manitoba." Our communities and our guests will be enriched by these stories of courage and conviction, hardship and despair, faith and victory, and be encouraged to remember them and learn from them.

Will you partner with us in Freedom 15 in support of this important mission?

About the Author

Gary is responsible for the overall management of MHV. Guiding the staff, informing the board, and networking with officials, volunteers, corporate sponsors, individual donors and other guests. He has a business diploma and a MA in Global Studies from Providence Theological Seminary. With his family he did humanitarian work for 18 years in Asia, including being a CEO of a Compost Enterprise in China. He loves to discuss the Mennonite story and how it is relevant in our world. Learn more about the MHV. is Steinbach's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.