by Stephen Dafoe
Volunteer Appreciation Week came to a close in Morinville Friday night with the Annual Lions Club Citizen of the Year event at the Rendez-Vous, an evening of honouring Morinville and Sturgeon County community volunteers with three distinct awards.
The partnership between the Morinville Lions Club, Rendez-Vous, and Morinville News saw four awards presented as well as two additional recognitions and a number of thank you certificates.
The first award presented Friday night was the Rendez-Vous Centre’s Heritage Award, presented to a community member with a long-standing record of service to a volunteer organization. The awards has been given out annually since 1997.
This year’s recipient was Rita Hebert who was recognized for volunteering for many years with St. Jean Baptiste Church as church secretary and with the Rendez-Vous Centre, serving on the board for many years as well as in a number of other capacities.
Hebert is also a member of the Morinville Minstrels seniors’ choir.
Hebert had few words, simply stating her appreciation and recognizing there were many people she felt were equally deserving.
PAUL KRAUSKOPF COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD
Morinville News’ Paul Krauskopf Community Spirit Award honours the memory and legacy of Paul Krauskopf, a long time member of Morinville Town Council, former mayor and active community volunteer.
The award recognizes not Krauskopf’s role as an elected official but his sense of community spirit, rolling up his sleeves where needed or sitting in the seats at a community play or event.
This year’s recipients were Danny Getzlaf and the Higher Grounds volunteers.
Getzlaf was recognized as the kind of guy who brightens up people’s days with a joke, a listening ear, and a pat on the back.
The Morinville resident was recognized for being active in the community by donating his time to several community events and causes, and for never saying ‘no’ to someone who needs his help.
Getzlaf was touched by the award and said when he moved to Morinville in the 1990s he had no friends in his new home. His approach to changing that was to just be kind to everyone he met. “Things turned around and just worked out,” Getzlaf said, noting he soon had many friends in his new town.
The Higher Grounds volunteers were collectively recognized for their community spirit and generosity of time. The award recognized not only the current approximately 15 volunteers serving at the not-for-profit coffee shop, but also the original volunteers who started the concept many years ago.
Over the years, the doors of Higher Grounds have been opened for seniors to play cribbage, for up and coming performers to display their talents, and even for those who wished to hold a celebration of life for their departed loved ones.
Recent activities have included merchant nights, father and daughter teas, book launches, paint nights and other activities you would not expect in a coffee shop.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR
The Morinville Lions Club has served Morinville and area since 1949. Since 1968, the club has presented their Citizen of the Year Award. The first award was presented to Father Georges H. Primeau.
The award is open to all Morinville and Sturgeon County individuals or families that have made a significant contribution to the community.
This year’s winner was Sturgeon County resident Kathy Sandmaier, who has been active with Morinville youth for the past 15 years.
Sandmaier, a Rotarian, volunteers with the Rotary Interact youth program at Morinville Community High School.
In that role, she has gone with students on mission trips to assist with building schools and playgrounds.
Sandmaier is also active with Teen Time camp and is a member of the Rotary Club of Morinville executive. She also helps with the Rotary Park clean up.
Sandmaier joked that the only reason she has time to do all the volunteerism she does is because of her husband, Jim. “Without him having the great job that he has had to make it possible so that I don’t have to work,” she said. “So, of course, I get bored quickly. Might as well do something. It’s thanks to Jim that I have all the time to do the things that I did.”
The Lions also recognized two other Citizen of the Year nominees this year.
Legal volunteer Ricky de Champlain, a long-time active volunteer with Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch, the Lions Club of Legal, and Legal’s long-running Fête au Village was honoured with a certificate from the club.
De Champlain was recognized as “a very community-minded individual committed to his community.”
Elsie Stang was honoured for more than 15 years of volunteerism in Morinville through the Midstream Support Society, where she provides service and assistance tot he shop’s customers. She also is the organizer of Midstream’s Christmas Feast for underprivileged families.
The Lions Club also handed out certificates of appreciation to long-time partners and sponsors The Midstream Support Society, The Rendez-Vous Centre, Bistro Di Madre, Coaches Corner, J.M. Turner Goldsmith, and Morinville News.
The evening included a catered meal, awards, draws, and music by Two Bad Apples.