Mennonite Heritage Village

A New Development

by Gary Dyck

A New Development

It has been four months that we have been without a Development Coordinator at the Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). Needing to reduce expenses because of Covid-19, there was no rush to hire a new one. That is until Patrick Friesen sent in his resume. Patrick exhibits relational depth and brings a variety of communication skills with him. We talked over lunch at the Livery Barn Restaurant, a little more by the pond, an hour on a white bench along our ‘Main street’ and finally another hour in my office. I believe MHV is fortunate to have him and that our fundraising, donor relations and social media will get a big boost from him. Here are some questions I asked Patrick so you can get to know him too!

Let’s start with a friendly Mennonite question, where do you come from? You can include your previous work and education.

My wife Trudy, along with our two daughters, moved to Steinbach 12 years ago for me to take on a teaching and public relations role at Steinbach Bible College. Over the years we’ve lived in Aylmer, Ontario, Swift Current and Caronport, Saskatchewan and now we’ve made Steinbach our home. The real Mennonite answer needed is to say that my parents are Wilbert and Hilda Friesen, former missionaries in Nicaragua. My dad grew up in Kleefeld so there is still a strong connection to this part of the world. I’ve been in the education world either as a student or as a professor/administrator for most of my life. I’ve had the privilege of earning a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and a Doctorate in Worship Studies.

What is it about MHV that attracted you to the role of Development Coordinator?

My love of history and storytelling drew me to the opportunity to support and promote the Mennonite Heritage Village. Throughout my educational career, the Mennonite story has provided a prominent perspective through which to interpret history. I count it a privilege to be given an opportunity to contribute to telling the Mennonite story. 

I know you have only been here a few days, but what might be some of your first priorities in this role?

Apart from just getting to know the staff and operations at MHV, my priorities will be focused on fostering great relationships with our many supporters and developing a strategic plan to promote the exhibits and programs provided by the MHV. More immediately I’m looking forward to supporting the development of the Dirk Willems Peace Garden.

What visions for the future do you already have for MHV?

Building off of the mission and vision already established for the Mennonite Heritage Village, I would love to see this place provide space and resources for wellness and creative expression. As Steinbach continues to become a multicultural community, I’m curious about exploring ways in which the Mennonite story intersects with other traditions.

Anything else you would like our readers to know?

I love a good story, especially if it comes together with a laugh as well. Stop in for a visit, I would love to hear your story.