by Stephen Dafoe
The community got the jump on Volunteer Appreciation Week (Apr. 12-18) with their annual Volunteer Appreciation Night, held at the Morinville Community Cultural centre Apr. 9. The evening event combined a Mediterranean meal catered by the Green Bean, entertainment by the Morinville Minstrels, the McDonald sisters and Dance Connections, as well as the handing out of awards in eight categories.
In her opening remarks, Mayor Lisa Holmes said one action or one kind word can have a ripple effect, the theme of this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Week activities. “You can see that we are all a benefactor of the many wonderful and positive effects that people have on our lives,” Holmes said, adding volunteers come in many forms from the person who donates hours and years to a cause or organization to the person who picks up a piece of litter or to help someone across the street. “Anytime you give of your time and you energy and your talents, you are volunteering.”
A total of eight awards were presented, five sponsored by the Town and three by community groups and businesses.
Coach/Mentor of the Year: Girl Guides leader Dougie Edwards was the winner of this year’s Coach/Mentor of the Year award. Edwards was nominated by two of the young women she has been a mentor to.
A Brownie and a Guide herself in her younger days, Edwards learned when she took her daughter to join Brownies that if a leader didn’t come forward the program would not open. “It was about one hour a week,” Edwards said of what she was told of the commitment, a line that got a big laugh in the volunteer crowd. “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful time and I’ve met a lot of wonderful girls. I have a passion for Girl Guides. I have a passion for girls being successful and the best they can be.”
Unsung Hero: Val Loseth was this year’s recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. Loseth was nominated by a member of the Morinville Community Gardens for her efforts in last year’s Farm-to-Table event.
An emotional Loseth thanked her mother Iris Mathieson for inspiring a volunteer spirit in her at a young age. She thanked her mother for dragging her to many events as a child on the basis of if she wasn’t working, she was volunteering. “It’s your inspiration that makes me do what I do,” Loseth said. Loseth went on to praise her fellow Community Gardeners for all they have done to grow the program over the years.
Youth Volunteer of the Year: Tristan Turner was this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award. Turner was nominated by his grandmother for his work helping youth and involvement starting the Rotary Interact Club.
“This is such an honour being here tonight with all these fantastic volunteers,” Turner said. “The people here tonight have a lot of character and with people like this our community is only going to get better and better.”
Volunteer Family: The Morinville Community Library, Morinville Public Library Board, and Friends of the Morinville Library shared the honour of volunteer family this year for their collectively instilling the volunteering spirit.
“We are very much a family,” Library Manager Isabelle Cramp said. “We spend a lot of time together. We are so happy to share it [our library home] with everyone. We have so many volunteers that I can;t name them all because they are numerous. We are so very lucky that people will come to us and say, “What needs to be done? I’m here to help.”
Volunteer of the Year: Morinville Historical and Cultural Society President Shiela Houle was this year’s Volunteer of the Year. Houle was nominated by Society member Murray Knight because of her character and commitment to the organization.
“What a surprise,” Houle said in receiving the award. “I thank everybody; particularly the people I work with on the Historical and Cultural Society. They do all the work. I just sit there and say, ‘This meeting is over.’”
Paul Krauskopf Community Spirit Award: This year’s recipient of the Morinville News’ sponsored award was Paul Smith. The award was presented by Krauskopf’s widow Linda and daughter Lisa Piche. Piche said her father would have been proud of Paul having won the award because he was fond of the local volunteer.
Smith expressed the same admiration in his acceptance of the award. “Paul was one of he most distinguished, sincere and compassionate volunteers Morinvillians have ever had the pleasure to know,” Smith said. “I am so thankful I got to know Paul when I did.”
Smith went on to thank those who assist with the various festivals.
Heritage Award: Ken Hashey was this year’s winner of the Rendez-Vous Club sponsored award. The volunteer was recognized for the efforts he puts forward at the Rendez-Vous Centre. Hashey thanked his nominator, the board and a member of the club. The nominee and award winner also thanked organizers of the event.
Citizen of the Year: Morinville Chamber of Commerce President Simon Boersma was the winner of this year’s Lions Club Citizen of the Year for his Chamber work, attendance at town meetings, involvement in the Rotary Club and overseas volunteerism with the Flying Doctors.
Boersma credited his grandparents for his sense of volunteerism. “When my grandfather finished fighting the war, he took in German kids even though we were Dutch,” he said, adding his mother always taught him to give back to the community. “That’s what taught me and started my volunteerism.”
Boersma went on to say he was pleased to see so many younger people involved in volunteering today. “It’s not the age that matters; just get out there and do something.”