Story by Robert Jump / Photos by Lucie Roy
Morinville – The cultural centre was packed to the rafters with volunteers and community spirit Friday night as Morinville recognized volunteerism in the community at its annual awards night. This year’s event carried a tropical theme complete with Polynesian dancers, island foods, and plenty of wiki tiki kitsch from the table centrepieces to the overall décor.
Although the décor and colourful commentary of emcee Paul Smith may have carried volunteers to island realms, the ceremony was very much grounded in Morinville, a fact made evident by the large turnout of volunteers.
“We’re just really excited that we have such a large turnout for this event,” said Morinville’s Family and Community support Services coordinator Amy Dribnenky, adding 350 people attended this year’s event. “We actually have a fairly good representation of youth in the community, and some of the youth have actually been here helping us build the centrepieces.”
But the turnout in volunteers to accept a little thanks from the community they volunteer in was not the only big turnout this year. Dribnenky said they had many nominees to sort through. “We had a phenomenal turnout for nominees,” she said. “There were over 50 nominees for the various Town of Morinville awards. It was a very difficult decision. There was some very persuasive nominations that came in as to who deserved it. And the committee really struggled with it to try and find who was going to be the winner this year.”
In fact, choosing between nominees was so tough, the committee wound up awarding Volunteer of the Year to two people because of a tie. This year’s winners were Irene Grant and Frank Volmer.
The other nine awards had one winner each.
Leader of the Year was awarded to Morinville Road Runners Basketball coach Serge Froment who recently won a Building Block Award from Sturgeon County.
Acknowledged for her long history of volunteerism and for mentoring others in the same is Lil Boddez, this year’s recipient of the Legacy Award.
In its second year of existence, the MSI (Municipal Sustainability Plan) Award was presented to Higher Grounds Espresso Bar for the work they do in the community, particularly in providing youth with a safe and caring place to perform.
The Partnership Award, recognizing those who have worked together to develop, implement or provide an event, program or service to the community was presented to Morinville News Editor Stephen Dafoe.
The Silent Hero Award, recognizing those who quietly work their magic as unsung heroes in the community, was presented to Lucie Roy, who is active with the Morinville Legion, historical Society and many other groups and programs, including St. Jean Baptiste Festival and last year’s Centennial celebrations.
This year’s awards ceremony saw the addition of a Youth Volunteer of the Year Award, which was presented to MCHS student Travis Loseth who is active in volunteering in both Morinville and Sturgeon County. Loseth is perhaps best known for the anti-bullying vigil he organized last year in St. Jean Baptiste Park.
In addition to the Town of Morinville sponsored awards, three additional awards were presented by the Morinville Lions Club, Morinville Seniors Rendez-Vous Centre, and The Morinville News.
This year’s Lions Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Rick and Joanne Hughes for their 18 years of dedication to the 1st Morinville Scouting Movement. Rick began as a Beaver Leader and later moved on to Scout and Venture leader. He’s also served as Group Commissionaire many times and mentored their new Group Commissionaire. Like Rick, Joanne started as a Beaver leader and moved on to lead Venturers and Rovers. She ran the Popcorn fundraiser for many years.
The Rendez-Vous Centre’s Heritage Award, recognizing a volunteer’s longstanding service to any volunteer organization in Morinville, was presented to Therese Gervais for her work with the Rendez-Vous Centre. Gervais spent a two-year term as president of the Rendez-Vous Centre and four additional years on the Rendez-Vous Centre board in other capacities. During that period she helped expand activities at to include craft sales, strawberry teas and the annual Applefest. Her work continues to enrich the lives of Morinville seniors.
The Morinville News sponsored the Community Spirit Award, a new award presented to Dennis (Eskimo Dennis) McCammon for his outstanding enthusiasm and support for the Morinville Jets and for how he keeps everyone he runs into up to date with just what’s going on in town.
Dribnenky said it was important to the Town to acknowledge the nominees this year as well as those who won the various awards, something she said was important given the quality of nominees this year.
“This year we had a lot of people that really give back a lot,” Dribnenky said of the nominees. “We have so many wonderful volunteers in Morinville as it is – it’s nice going through the nominations and seeing all the things that are being done in town and having that opportunity to thank them.
Congratulations to all the award winners. This is just an awesome story.
Congratulations to the winners as well as those who were nominated. A great group of volunteers is what helps make a town or city become a vibrant community. Without volunteers selflessly donating their most valuable commodity – their time – our small town would be just another place you drive through on your way to somewhere else, rather than a great place to live.